Italy 1993. 55 Min.
bw. DCP. Hindi/E/I/e
In his debut, Gianfranco Rosi already literally practices the captivating immersion into an environment, inspired by Direct Cinema, which has characterised his work ever since. In Varanasi, a holy city by the Ganges, he follows the meandering of the sacred river with the boatman Gopal. Drifting along the shore, Rosi exposes a closed world, which nonetheless opens up in all directions: wildly rocking tourist boats filled with eyes staring at the spectacle of the sacred rites, dead bodies of people who could not afford a proper Hindu ritual floating in the river, spiritual baths, playing children and countless animals in and around the river. The film is a bizarre and wild depiction of this place. Rosi captures transient images and sounds, without wanting to own them. The film questions the western view of the world as much as it questions the Hindu rituals on the Ganges itself. He does not judge. Instead, he gives us a sensual impression of a world where everything seems to be happening at the same time. Gopal at some point says to the constantly rattling camera that Indians have a mad heart. It seems like Rosi is filming this very heart. (ph)