Forest of Bliss

Screening on Film
Vintage Print
Directed by Robert Gardner.
US, 1987, 35mm, color, 90 min.
Print source: HFA

Transcending the usual means of anthropological filmmaking, Forest of Bliss is a singularly poetic work, a modernist "city symphony" that creates a panoramic portrait of the ancient Indian city of Benares. Shaped to occupy the time between two sunrises, the film focuses on people—both the living, seeking purification in the Ganges, and the countless dead who are cremated on its banks. By eschewing the use of voiced commentary or subtitles, Robert Gardner has created a uniquely visual work that subtly acknowledges the outsider status of both the filmmaker and the viewer while powerfully capturing the multitudes at work, at play, and at prayer.

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Nonfiction Film