Eclipse 1969: Calcutta

It’s been so long since I watched an Eclipse movie! This is another film from the Malle box set — a documentary about Calcutta?

So these are just random things you might see if you’re in Calcutta and have a movie camera? Malle used a purely observant camera in Humain, Trop Humain to great success, but it doesn’t feel the same at all here. The camera there seemed very sympathetic, but it’s more exoticising here — kinda revelling in the squalor?

OK, I changed my mind: This is kinda great.

Reading the liner notes on the DVD, Malle was shooting material for what would become Phantom India, but decided that the Calcutta material would be edited down into its own movie, and that’s what we have here. I haven’t seen Phantom India yet, but it’s in this box set, too, so look forward to snaps from it any day now. (It’s a six hour TV series, so I have to get really drunk before viewing it.)

Pollution… have you heard of the concept? (They’re tipping all these statues into the river.)

Ah, here’s the contrast: The upper class twits.

(I couldn’t watch this sequence — it’s a street cremation.)

Apparently some people from Kolkata didn’t like this movie:

Best of its own-the Great Grand Kolkata lives & breathes in full life in its very own wonderful World today!!!There are many a things that does NOT meets the eye & to find that hidden beauty there,give yourself a visit to “Kolkata”.

This is pretty great, but I’m really annoyed at how they’re not translating what the people on the streets are saying. There’s an intermittent commentary (in French, subtitled in English on this DVD), but often when people are talking, it’s basically nothing.

I mean, that’s Malle’s choice, and Criterion is respecting it, but…

You can almost smell this movie.

Disposable tea cups made from dried clay. That just seems so… weirdly wasteful.

But this is a fascinating movie, anyway, so:

Calcutta. Louis Malle. 1969.

This blog post is part of the Eclipse series.

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