When he was cutting Phantom India, Louis Malle found that the footage shot in Calcutta was so diverse, intense, and unforgettable that it deserved its own film. The result, released theatrically, is at times shocking—a chaotic portrait of a city engulfed in social and political turmoil.
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I'm more reminded of Vivekananda than Karl Marx, but this documentary shows what they were both up against--a chaos of abject need and a gorgeous historical religion with titanic voids of social and economic discourse. A sobering cinematic witness to mankind in a turbulent hour.
A mesmerizing documentation of wonder and incomprehension. The more objective, arms-length approach in Calcutta differs greatly from the landmark Phantom India series, where Malle incorporated his personal odyssey and reflection; here the legendary French director's focus cycles between religion, politics, and the poor.
One of the most devastating films I have ever seen. Sometimes the unflinching camera got under your skin. Remember this was in the tumultuous year of 1968. The conditions in now Kolkatta are said to be improved since the filming.