DEAD BIRDS is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Irian. When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had an almost classic ... See full summary »
A beautiful documentary about the death industry in India. It is presented with vivid sound but no words or subtitles in English. I found the film a bit hypnotic and sleep inducing at the beginning, but as I gradually started to piece together a narrative of what I thought could be happening I started to construct a story from the presented sounds and images. Cows munching on marigold leis, burning bodies, pouring water on the ashes, fighting dogs, hauling wood for the pyres and an ill tempered funeral director haggling over the price of a service. I'm sure that no one else came away with an understanding very much like mine, but the film maker was able to give me vivid images so I could invent my own story.
Unfortunately the director thought he was presenting an essay. For me with no words, it was like trying to understand an essay written in German, for someone who speaks and reads only English. I could pick out a few common ideas around death rituals that I have seen or sat through such as an Irish wake, or sitting shivah, but I missed most of the meaning and details about this set of Hindu cultural practices.
Though it is not what I expect from a good documentary, this very polished film may be more insightful for someone who has spent considerable time in India.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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