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The Song of Ceylon (1934)

6.4
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Title: The Song of Ceylon (1934)

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15 August 1937 (USA)  »

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Ceylonin laulu  »

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1.37 : 1
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THE SONG OF CEYLON (Basil Wright, 1934) **1/2
6 January 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

It is becoming increasingly evident that several documentaries once considered great have lost much of their lustre with the passage of time. With the film under review, it is possible that the acclaim – and accolades (proudly cited in the opening title-card) – received upon release was due to its exclusive (though not artistically innovative, or even all that engaging!) look into a culture which, at the time, was foreign to Western eyes in more ways than one.

Of course, over the years, many another notable film-maker (Robert Flaherty, Louis Malle, Roberto Rossellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, etc.) has been drawn to making documentaries about the Indian 'lifestyle'. Incidentally, the use of the word "song" in the title here suggests a celebration of the topic involved (its various facets tackled, for what it is worth, in individual chapters) but, as I said, the end result – not aided by narration that is barely audible through the hiss-riddled soundtrack! – is mainly drab and only just tolerable at best.


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