A look at Bali, in the Dutch East Indies, 90 miles long, 45 miles wide, and home to a million people. After a quick reference to its history, we see its rice paddies, markets, and fishing. ...
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A look at Bali, in the Dutch East Indies, 90 miles long, 45 miles wide, and home to a million people. After a quick reference to its history, we see its rice paddies, markets, and fishing. Rice is a cash crop, and the distribution of wealth, according to the narrator, is the most equal in the world. Girls dance at the temples, from age four to fourteen. Each community has its orchestra and often a popular dancer. We watch Gigi and his back-up musicians. On the shore, tourists are just beginning to discover Bali's beauty. Written by
One of the better Traveltalks thanks to the scenery
James FitzPatrick supervised 175+ (never sure of exact count) Traveltalk one-reelers for MGM between 1930 and 1953 (and an additional 9 or so later for Paramount, dubbed "VistaVision Visits"). Filmed in glorious Technicolor (beginning with 1934's "Holland In Tulip Time"), they provided exotic eye-candy to Depression and wartime audiences who couldn't leave their hometowns. Since they were ridiculously cheap to make (resembling "home movies" blown to 35mm size), MGM decided to cut back on other Technicolor shorts in the later thirties apart from cartoons and occasional Pete Smith "Specialties"; by then most major Metro features, black & white or color, had a Traveltalk to go with it.
Viewed individually with unrelated shorts and features, they boast plenty of nostalgic appeal. However, watching a bunch of them together is a very boring experience. The obsession with old landmarks, minus pop culture references and people close-ups, makes it difficult to "date" them; thirties and early fifties Traveltalks are practically indistinguishable. Other studios like Warner Bros. put a bit more "oomph" in their travelogues and avoided repetition, particularly those made by Andre de la Varre. My impression is that both FitzPatrick and MGM were sleepwalking their way through this series simply because theater owners were demanding color shorts on their programs.
The standouts include "India On Parade" (a personal favorite), some of the Japanese and early National Park entries and this one, which includes a higher percentage of "people footage" and showcases Bali as always "beautiful". I'm guessing cameraman Robert Carney was less timid getting close to the "natives" than his contemporaries and they all smile a lot at his jokes. The dance sequences are quite impressive too; one very athletic "star" could have been the subject of his own documentary short. Also, like some of the earlier Jack Cardiff productions, Carney's images appear much sharper than usual, with above-average composition.
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