Phantom India: The Indian and the Sacred Lunch Matters
1969, France, Louis Malle, 52 min.
Presented in association with The Criterion Collection
Free to Members
The 1969 documentary Phantom India is Louis Malle’s seven-part portrait of India. It serves as an investigation into the country’s sociopolitical landscape, traditions, and people, as well as a furthering Malle’s self-discovery as a non-fiction filmmaker.
This third episode of Phantom India explores the contradictions and paradoxes of Indian religion. Opening with a yogi who has pierced his entire body with giant needles -"The Indians and the Sacred" then segues into a trip to see a giant statue of Nandi the Bull, and then into southern India, for a glimpse of more idiosyncratic and tightly-knit Indian belief systems. Later, Malle and his team visit the temple of Madurai, tour a garbhagrilha, and greet the saddhus, who mingle with, and are possessed by, powerful and occasionally malevolent spirits.
Post-screening discussion with Rubin Museum of Art Assistant Curator Beth Citron.