At First Sight

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At First Sight is a 1999 American film about a blind man who has an operation to regain his sight at the urging of his girlfriend and must deal with the changes to his life.

Directed by Irwin Winkler. Written by Steve Levitt, based on the essay "To See and Not to See" in neurologist Oliver Sacks' book An Anthropologist on Mars.
Only Love Can Bring You To Your Senses. taglines

Virgil Adamson[edit]

  • Some seeing eye dog, more like sleeping eye dog.
  • I may not have been a lot of places - but I read about things, then make an image up here --(points to his head)--that works for me.
  • Listening - the rain - it brings out the contours of everything, gives life to a room I can't see. You hear it?...on the roof dripping down the walls on every side. On the right, on the drainpipe, it's drumming with a deeper, steadier sound - - like a timpani - echoing across the room - tells me the room is large - open. You feel it - in your chest? On the left, the rain says...a fire escape, with its own rhythm - ping - ping. Then listen - there...
  • The world is invisible to me - with my touch it comes alive. But only one thing at a time. But when it's raining, I feel everything at once. Sometimes, I wish it could rain inside rain all around us.
  • Of course, most people avoid the subject. You tell them you're blind and they act surprised. "You're blind? Really? I didn't know - you hide it so well." And then they wave their hand in front of your face just to make sure.
  • Just for a second I felt like I could see you - all of you.
  • Amy. I want the chance to see. The chance to see Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, apples, raisins, a buffalo, a carburetor and the man in the moon. But I would give all that up - just to see this face.
  • This is just great - I don't believe this. What's that saying - stop the world I wanna get off.
  • I feel like Rip Van Winkle. I've woken up from a thirty year sleep - and the world's passed me by.
  • I was better off blind. People don't have these expectations of you you can't live up to. You're blind - fine - they deal with it.
  • Growing up blind - I had two dreams. One was to see. The other - to play for the New York Rangers. After the 'miracle' of my short period of sight - I realize - I'd rather play for the Rangers. It's not that it was so awful - I saw many things - some good, some back some that I'm already forgetting. But I realized that our eyes aren't what make us see. We only live in darkness when we don't look - look at what is genuine about ourselves - genuine about others - you don't need eyes for that.
  • I saw the horizon. It's out there. And though I may not ever be able to touch it, it's worth reaching for.

Amy Benic[edit]

  • I've spent the last five years of my adult life with a man who has the emotional content of a soap dish. The only time I saw him cry was doing our tax return three years ago. I need more than that, Betsy. For once in a long, long time I feel like I can breathe again. Just the way he touches me I know I found someone I can connect with.
  • I can tell he's sensing everything about me with a simple touch. He listens to my every word as if it's the only sound on the planet - I feel like even though he can't see me, he knows everything about me. He just moves me - does that sound crazy.

Jennie Adamson[edit]

  • When there's something you've adapted to, accepted - you'd just want to change it without even thinking about it?
  • Hope is like fire, it can keep you warm - or it can burn you.
  • Amy - when Virgil was very young, he couldn't see those close to him - so he never learned to reach out. Don't expect him to reach out when he's in pain, or confused, or unhappy. If you really care about him you have to just be there for him.

Phil Webster[edit]

  • Virgil - look - you have to learn to see - just like you learned to speak. Only this is not like learning a new language - it's like learning language for the first time. Perception - sight - life, is about experience - about reaching out and exploring the world for yourself. It's not enough to just see Virgil—we've got to look as well.
  • Limbo is like New Jersey. You can see all the good stuff, you just have to get there.


Amy: You always make the girls cry.
Virgil: Not since grade school.

Virgil: Eyes, mouth, chin, are very beautiful.
Amy: Thank-you. So are you - more than I could describe.

Ethan: Are you blind?
Virgil: Yeah.
Ethan: Cool, see ya.

Virgil: I can't sleep - I'm afraid if I close my eyes...
Amy: It'll be black when you open them again.

Webster: Right - OK, Virgil - says here you went blind at one - before you developed a visual vocabulary. You have no sense of depth of field, no knowledge of space, shape, size or distance. Basically your eyes work but your brain hasn't learned to process the information. You are mentally blind. Neurologists call this "visual agnosia".
Virgil: I call it pretty screwed up.
Webster: Better term. I'll make a note of that.

Virgil: When I was blind - I had an image of what everything was, up here...[points to his head] now - it's all different - not at all what I'd expected - not what I'd hoped for.
Webster: Virgil, let me explain something here. When you were blind - you dealt with things one at a time - sequentially right? A wall led to a door to a tree to a car. That's how you got to what you wanted - right. Seeing people - for better or worse - deal with everything all at once - taking in the whole picture - which sometimes confuses the hell out of what they want. Virgil, my advice after three beers - don't be afraid to take in the whole picture - just don't lose sight of what you want.

Virgil: It's the craziest thing. You start back over there - focus on a building. And when you walk towards it - it changes - each step makes it look different. I started out just looking for the horizon.
Amy: You can't see it from here - too many buildings.
Virgil: But it's still there - even though you can't see it - right? You gotta have faith it's there. Things exist beyond what I can see - I just have to take it on faith.


  • Only Love Can Bring You To Your Senses.
  • Science gave him sight. She gave him vision.


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