comment on Forest of Bliss and observational cinema

Excellent observations. I haven’t seen Children Underground but I have a sense of its aesthetics. One of the reasons why we watched 3 different observational styles was to understand how observation as a mode of inquiring reality can take different forms, connected to the epistemic position we assume. MacDougall’s embodied camera is very different from the surgical eye of Wiseman or the empathic vision of Maysles. In this sense observation is what you make of it. One of its strengths however is the space it leaves for the viewer to breathe within the picture, and not away from it.


DVD 000209 Forest of bliss

This post intends to explore the materiality of death that imbues everyday living in the holy city, Benares, presented to the viewer through the Gardner’s ethnographic inquiry and visual narrative. The materiality of the movie, I believe, is achieved with the no-intervening and purely observational camera of the director.  Gardner chose a rich visual vocabulary to comprehend and present reality. The meaningful use of sound and visual helps Gardner convey his film’s messages without any need for voice-over or text. In the first section of this I will show how this pure observational movie functions and in the second part I will compare Forest of Bliss with the movie Children Underground (2001) shot in the subways and squats of Bucharest, Romania. I like to question to what extent an observational can inform the viewer and does it have any any implications?

This 90 minute film shows the entanglement of profanity…

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