India Song (1975)

MARGUERITE DURAS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

, 1975. , . Screenplay by Marguerite Duras. Cinematography by . Produced by , . Music by . Film Editing by .

Probably the best known of Marguerite Duras’ directorial efforts, this photographically pristine film will frustrate all but the most daring of viewers. Set in a colonial 1930s India (but shot at the Château Rothschild in Paris), it mainly figures around as a diplomat’s wife who takes on a series of lovers, relationships which reflect the changes being suffered by the crumbling empire of which they are a part. Not that the film plays out quite so clearly, as no dialogue is spoken on screen, instead playing out in voice over while the actors take part in a series of lengthy, elegantly created tableaux.

Not a particularly rewarding prospect, and Duras, who was usually a master of intellectual eroticism, doesn’t heighten the overwrought conceit with any curiosity or humour. What she does provide, however, are a series of ravishing images that really are a wonder to behold, the controlled perfection of each shot is the film’s greatest asset, perhaps its only one, and this has been returned to its impeccable beauty by a recent restoration supervised by the film’s cinematographer (and later a director in his own right), Bruno Nuytten.

Toronto International Film Festival: 1976

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