The film consists of four episodes through which Roberto Rossellini’s impressions and feelings about India and its society emerge. The film opens with the story of an elephant driver getting married. This is followed by a labourer who has worked on the Irakud damn for seven years and who wants to leave the village; then there is an old peasant who saves a tiger’s life; finally, there is the story of the monkey which finds itself alone in the desert after its owner’s death. Rossellini went to India in 1957 to direct a documentary mini-series (L’India vista da Rossellini) for the Italian and French televisions. He also wanted to make a feature film. The drafted script (written with Iranian scriptwriter Fereyoun Hoveyda) completely changed as soon as he started to work with the young Indian woman Sonali Senroy Das Gupta. The feature film was shot in parallel to the documentary mini-series, with the same team. —Viennale
Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945) to the movement.
In 1937, Rossellini made his first documentary, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. After this essay, he was called to assist Goffredo Alessandrini in making Luciano Serra pilota, one of the most successful Italian films of the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he was called to assist Francesco De Robertis on Uomini sul Fondo.His close friendship with Vittorio Mussolini, son of Il Duce, has been interpreted as a possible reason for having been preferred to other apprentices.
Some authors describe the first part of his career as a sequence of trilogies. His first feature film, La nave bianca (1942) was sponsored by the audiovisual propaganda centre of Navy Department and is the first work in Rossellini’s “Fascist Trilogy”, together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). To this period belongs… read more
Garrulous voiceover infused with excitement, awe, so imparted by whirlwind diorama of India - its faces, enterprise; contours ancient and modern. In such reverence of a perceived richness and vitality, Rossellini complacently instils a romanticised Western mythos, which, along with the antiquated animal treatment, weigh on the sheer vibrancy of the frame, albeit filtered through segmented, melodramatic vignettes. Thus diminished to relic before relevancy, if not without flavour - to go as far as flawed beauty, whose wonder slowly ingratiates.
Some amazing images in this. I loved the way it effortlessly blended fiction and documentary. I felt bad for that monkey though...
Breathtaking sui generis film that moves from youth to beyond death. Im wary of "documentaries" about "India" & sure the usual accusations (poverty as spectacle, exoticizing) can be made here but are quibbles when faced with its controlled mastery, as it hovers between (Brechtian) presentation (the rapid shot reverse shot montage with the tiger, obvious presence of the monkey's trainer) and (Bazinian) documentary.