THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT (1987) [Feature]

UK (MIFF 1988 )

Doctor P, a distinguished singer, visits a
neurologist. He is suffering from a profound
visual agnosia. He can see but he cannot
recognise. At the doctor's consulting room, he
mistakes his wife for a hat stand.

After conducting a series of tests, the
neurologist is none the wiser, failing to
understand how a man with such visual
devastation can manage the simplest
practicalities of life such as dressing, eating,
washing, Mrs P finally comes to his rescue by
pointing out that her husband hums and sings
his way through the day with dressing songs,
eating songs, and bathing songs. The
neurologist realises that Doctor P has
substituted the world of music for the world of
vision. With an inner soundtrack consisting
largely of Schumann, Doctor P negotiates the
pressing visual realities of living, making
rudimentary sense of the world. But when the
music stops, when Doctor P is interrupted, his
fragile world shatters into abstraction.

Based on the true case study by Dr Oliver
Sacks, it was the inspiration of Michael Nyman, (the composer usually associated with Peter Greenaway) to turn the story into a
neurological opera - the perfect medium for
this story.

Select Festival

Search the film archive