Title: Boatman (1996)
Genre: Country | Documentary | Genre | Italy |
|Genre||Documentary | Italy ||
Boatman is Gianfranco Rosi’s account of a boattrip along the Ganges river, together with his helmsman Gopal. They pass tourists and Indians who are bathing, working or meditating. In a series of small portraits Rosi depicts life on and at the banks of India’s sacred river. Central theme of this film is the imagination of the endless circle of life and death, which is rooted in the lives of the Indian people, and which is convincingly manifested in the way they bid the dead farewell....
It's nice to see this film after having seen other of Rosi's films. You get a sense of what strikes him as important in storytelling. This film came out in 1993, his next one came out in 2008! Rosi spends a lot of time with the subjects of his films and you can feel it gave rise to an intimate relationship with the boatman.
The idea of the film is brilliant: Rosi has a direct cinema approach to the Ganges river and discovers it rowing around in a small boat, guided by the funny and heart-warming boatman. Combined with great black and white photography, it is difficult not to be amazed by Rosi's skill in capturing such beautiful images together with the sound and still be directly involved with the surroundings.
Interesting characters are everywhere but the most intriguing are the foreigners who came here. Some are tourists and are just amazed by what they are seeing (no spoilers here but the list is huge) and some have moved there and are happy with the spiritual life they are leading. The main aspect that Rosi seems keen to emphasize is the contradiction between a less than satisfactory sanitary life-style and a wholesome spiritual life-style that is combined in the Ganges. People seem happy, happier than in any European or American country, but they have very little, at least compared to their occidental counterpart.
If you've grown up in a catholic country, this film will make you question everything that has been taught to you (even if you're not religious), if you're a hindou, well, you might just be surprised that such a film was even made and wonder, just like the boatman, what all the fuss is about.
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