Damaged bodies in documentary: 'Black Sun' and 'Murderball'

Austin, Thomas (2010) Damaged bodies in documentary: 'Black Sun' and 'Murderball'. Studies in Documentary Film, 4 (1). pp. 51-64. ISSN 1750-3280

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Abstract

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?

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Depositing User: Thomas Austin
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:16
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2012 09:19
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/15534
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