Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Song of Ceylon

Ceylonin laulu. GB 1935. PC: General Post Office (GPO) Film Unit. P: John Grierson. D+DP+ED: Basil Wright. M: Walter Leigh. Commentary: from Robert Knox's travel journal (1680). Reader: Lionel Wendt. S: Cavalcanti. 40 min. Screened at 1,2:1. A BFINA print viewed at Cinema Orion (History of the Cinema), Helsinki, 15 Dec 2010.

Revisited one of the most beautiful (British) films of all time. A poetical masterpiece in four episodes: 1. The Buddha, 2. The Virgin Island, 3. The Voices of Commerce, and 4. The Apparel of God. It is a film of nobility and dignity.

The first episode follows the passage from devil worship to Buddhism. In the second episode we witness traditional ways with elephants, fishing, sawmills, and dancing schools. It is a celebration of an ancient way of life. In the third episode we proceed to industrialization: forestry (with elephants), cocoanut industry, tea industry, modern communication (telephone wires). In the final episode we return to Buddhism. There is a sense of music, dance, and rhythm in this wonderful film. Largely a beautiful definition of light in this print.

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