India: Matri Bhumi

India: Matri Bhumi
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Written by Roberto Rossellini, Sonali Senroy DasGupta, Feredoun Hoveyda and Vincenzo Talarico
1959/Italy/France
Aniene Film/Union Generale Cinematographique
First viewing/FilmStruck

Narrator: When faced with death, the general belief is that when a man dies, his life doesn’t end, because he’s reincarnated in another. But no one knows in whom. Therefore, all men are brothers.

An opportunity to see Rossellini’s rosy vision of India in the late 50’s.

The film shows various aspects of India, from cities like Bombay and Benares to villages in the jungles to construction on a massive dam site.  The film contains both documentary-style narration and narration by various “characters” of vignettes from daily life.

In Rossellini’s India there is no dire poverty, the various religions and castes get along beautifully, and an economic miracle is about ready to happen.  Despite the naïveté, there are many very enjoyable sequences.  I especially liked the one about the tender loving care given to working elephants and the one about a masterless monkey at a religious festival.

Clip (subtitles available by clicking on cc)

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