A Pinprick of Light [Kasra Karimi, UK, 2017]
In 1983, university Professor John Hull became blind, leading him to evaluate disability from the perspective of religion and theology, both areas in which he studied and taught. It’s an extraordinary story of a strong-willed man, whose spirit and work ethic, if anything, were bolstered by his affliction, recording an impressive number of cassette tapes to document his own experiences of blindness and his evolving views on Christianity.
The material here is covered well enough and the camera work is handled with great care and attention. Much of the film’s focus is on John’s relationship with his daughter and her innocent understanding of her father’s illness. Aesthetically, the film is very accomplished and much of its sentiments and atmosphere are established through close-ups of gestures and expressions, rather than through dialogue, allowing the footage from the tapes to work on their own level.
With that all being said, it is rather perplexing to contemplate exactly why Karimi felt the need to make this short in the first place, when one considers that Hull’s story has already been presented with much greater detail and to a much wider audience in Notes on Blindness (Peter Middleton & James Spinney, UK, 2016), itself an astonishing reconstruction of this brilliant man’s struggle and tenacity in the face of severe adversity, and which was also developed from their original short film of the same name. John Hull’s life is a truly remarkable one. Unfortunately, A Pinprick of Light feels superfluous and doesn’t shed any more light on accounts that have hitherto been thoroughly served.