Wednesday, January 21, 2009

L'Inde fantôme 5: Regards sur les castes

Intian päiväkirja 5: Kasteista. FR 1969. PC: Nouvelles Editions de Films / ORTF. P: Claude Nedjar. D: Louis Malle. DP: Etienne Becker - 16mm - colour - blowup to 35mm. ED: Suzanne Baron. S: Jean-Claude Laureux. Commentary read by: Louis Malle. 52 min. The restored version by AFF / CNC, e-subtitles by Lena Talvio, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Jan 2009. - Brilliant image in the print, gorgeous for instance in the colourful laundry (dhobi) sequence. - Magisterial. The US development assistance worker. The ancient music instruments. The folkloristic episode. The villagers got used to us. Beyond the routine, the unexpected. The precious cow manure. The carrying of water. The strange work patterns lead us to the hidden caste system. For the foreigner, it is incomprehensible, invisible, it is a silent agreement, an unconscious reflex, abolished from the Constitution. Since thousands of years, there are the four castes: 1. Brahmins, 2. Kshatriyas (warriors, nobility), 3. Vaishyas (merchants), 4. Shudras (workers, farmers, service providers, laborers) - and the casteless. - In this village, there were 20 castes. - The terms pariah, untouchable, caste, are invented by Europeans, not used by Indians. - The reality is more complex. - The casteless are called the Harijan (the children of God). The situation is comparable with the one that existed in the Old South of the U.S. between the whites and the blacks. - A young harijan was burned. The police was supposed to intervene, but there was a wall of silence that prevented it. - The greatest victims of the system are its greatest defendants. - The water pipe. The pure and the impure bath-house. - The tabus are losing some of their might, especially in the cities. - How one bathes, eats, smokes. - In the West, the individual is supreme, in India, the relations. - A charming outdoor school on the ceiling of the bath-house. The teachers belong to the brahmin caste. - The blind camel circles the grindstone that mixes the seed. - The concept of the freedom of the individual is unknown. - The man who is the water-lifter: the dharma. The system of exchange. The agrarian communism. Now connected with land ownership. The village goes in debt to the rich. The castes turn into classes. - The mountain tribe who has moved to the plains: isolated, fateless. - Laundry, the dhobi, the ancient way of beating against the rock, without soap. - Even in Madras, there are hundreds of the dhobi, in a precise division of labour. The laundry is ready to be picked up on the same day. - The Aryans, the Greek, the Romans, the Germans - the castes are 3000 years old - they preceded the Aryans. - In Bombay, there is a huge laundry, yet they have the dhobi. - In 1853, Marx predicted that the railway would put an end to the caste system. Instead, it still exists, hampering democracy. - The funeral, a jubileum of death. Death is not even a break in the continuous chain of existence. No punishment is final. The supreme goal is to no longer be born, to merge into the cosmos. - The modernization of agriculture. First, you have to change the consciousness. You need to look at the world in another way. - The traditional sport that resembles wrestling. Nobody follows the rules. The past can be revoked. - Panchayat: the village council. Sarpanch: the village chief. - There is an accusation of theft. But democracy and justice are only for the appearances.

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