With minimal narration by the director and very little context this is a kaleidoscope of stunning visuals from Calcutta, a city of 8,000,000 in the late 1960's: rich and poor, exotic and ... See full summary »

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With minimal narration by the director and very little context this is a kaleidoscope of stunning visuals from Calcutta, a city of 8,000,000 in the late 1960's: rich and poor, exotic and mundane, secular and religious, children and adults, animate and inanimate. Given only the images, the viewer can read any meaning she or he wants into the film. Written by Maple-2

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November 1971 (USA)  »

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Calcuta  »

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(Eastmancolor)

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1.37 : 1
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Considering the budget and how the film is made, it's an exceptional documentary
28 October 2007 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

CALCUTTA is a very unusual film in that there is no narration for about the first third of the film and even when it is given, it's only used very sparingly. It seems that director Malle chose to allow the many images of an impoverished city to speak for themselves. In fact, I also appreciated how the film did not push a clear agenda. Sure, it was there (as in any film), but often the film just seemed to be a walking tour of the city--ranging from the interesting to the unusual to the awful and disgusting. Malle did not flinch away from lepers, cremations and people living in abject squalor and considering the source material, avoiding these not so lovely images of the city would have been irresponsible and disingenuous. Additionally, I liked how the lack of narration through the film actually encourages the viewer to make their own interpretation of the film. As a result, I am sure that each viewer has a rather unique take on what the film was about as well as what they think of the future of India. An excellent film that is practically yelling out for a follow-up almost forty years later to show us how life in this crowded city has or has not changed.


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