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Damaged bodies in documentary: 'Black Sun' and 'Murderball'
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 19:26 authored by Thomas AustinThomas Austin
Death is a fetishised, if problematic, event in documentary. But rather less critical attention has been paid to issues of corporeal injury, impairment and disability. This article analyses two recent documentaries that explore the vulnerability, but also the stubborn persistence, of the (white male) body. Black Sun is a largely expressionist film essay on blindness based on a collaboration between protaganist/interviewee Hugues de Montalembert and composer/filmmaker Gary Tarn. Murderball is a realist account of young men competing in quadriplegic rugby which draws on sports movie conventions for its narrative shape. Both films share some dilemmas as well as clear points of contrast in approaching their subjects, especially around the in/visibility of the impaired body. How (if at all) is impairment made manifest on the imaged body? How might the films mobilise, complicate or refuse the objectification of sufferer/s as the other/s of an implicitly able-bodied viewer's gaze? What constructions of masculinity and ethnicity are evident here? And how are the subjects' particular modes of self-presentation (via competitive sport, travelling, writing, etc) mediated, and at times queried or disrupted, by the films' representational strategies?
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
Department affiliated with
- Media and Film Publications
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