Monday, May 03, 2004

Along the narrow streets of McLeod Ganj are three ‘cinemas’. Equipped with DVD players and massive projection or flat-screen TVs, they show 4 or 5 different films daily. For 30-45 rupees (40-60p) you can just about always catch a showing of topical classics like Kundun, Himalaya or Gandhi or recent big releases, like Monster, 21 Grams or Big Fish.

Yesterday I saw Baraka, a film friends have been telling me to see for ages. I was blown away. It is an extraordinary movie, a ‘state of the planet’ work of art, that opens your eyes and leaves you humbled and powerless. Woven into 70 minutes of original music are images of the full gamut of human and natural life: from the incomprehensible beauty of the earth's landscape and natural processes to the seemingly instinctual reverence and rituals of different cultures and religions; from people in the throw of unwieldy, global, dehumanising systems to the intricate rhythmical patterns people form as they simply move and live; from humanity’s massive capacity for cruel destruction to the hugest, most beautiful (and yet totally temporary) structures that we are capable of building. It made me aware of how our desires rule and ravage the world. And it made me realise how little we see of the bigger picture through our day to day experiences. When I emerged onto the bustling walkway, the colours seemed more vivid and life that little bit keener.


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