The Creation of Woman (1961) Poster

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Oscar-Nominated Short
Michael_Elliott1 September 2011
Creation of Woman, The (1961)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

This Oscar-nominated short has pretty much been forgotten over the years but it was produced by Ismail Merchant for just $9,000 and it was soon after filming that the filmmaker met James Ivory and the rest is history. This 14-minute film talks about the Hindu god Brahma's creation of life, the world and of course the first woman. Saeed Jaffrey narrates the story as dancers Bhaskar, Dinu and Anjali Devi "act" out the story. Perhaps I went into this film with too high of expectations but I found the end results to be mildly disappointing. It really wouldn't be fair to call this movie bad but at the same time it had a really hard time keeping my attention. I thought for the most part that the images were quite good as director Charles F. Schwep at least has some nice cinematography and he gets some good colors out of it. I thought the three performers did a good job with their dances but I'd be lying if I said anything the narrator said was of interest to me. I think the film would have been much better had it just focused on the dancers and left the narration alone as a simple introduction would have been all we needed.
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A retelling of creation stories using dance
Robert Reynolds22 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This short was nominated for the Academy Award for Live Action Short, losing to Day of the Painter. There will be spoilers ahead:

This is a fascinating short, telling creation stories through narration and dance. Brahma creates the first man, who is controlled by strings attached to his wrists. But man grows lonely, so Brahma decides he is to have a mate. The trouble is, Brahma used up all the raw materials at his disposal and so must be particularly creative in creating the woman, who is also controlled in the same way the man is.

The dancers advance the story as much as the narration does, through their facial expressions and movements. Quickly, it becomes clear that the man is in over his head and the woman has his not knowing whether he's coming or going.

He gives her back to Brahma, then comes to miss her and asks for her back, only to go back to Brahma yet again. At this point, Brahma frees them both to learn to live with each other while admonishing them to remember that he is their one god.

The dance is quite appealing, with the choreography being by the dancer playing Brahma and the other two being dancers in his troupe. This short is available on DVD as an extra on a feature film produced by Merchant-Ivory and is well worth getting. Recommended.
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Women--you can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em.
MartinHafer18 August 2012
This is a highly unusual film because it takes the story of creation from the book of Genesis and blends it with Hindu creation stories. The narrator actually reads excerpts from Genesis at the beginning and you see Hindu-inspired art and representations of God (Brahma). Then, as the story progresses, you get a blend of the Hindu and Judeo-Christian version of the creation of woman. And, finally, you get a Hindu story about how man did not adore the new creation, woman, and tried to give her back--only to realize that he simply could not live without her!

If this was a lengthy movie, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it all that much. But, at about 14 minutes, it works quite well. The story is probably NOT one that will appeal to a wide audience, but I already love films from India and liked the insight into the culture and mind of India you get from this tale. Plus, it's amazing to see what they did with a budget of only $9000. Well worth seeing, though, oddly, it looked as if it was filmed using the very old Two-color Technicolor or Cinecolor was used (as orange and greens predominate in these older and more obsolete film stocks).
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