Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sean Kelly

Doc Thoughts: Monsoon

MonsoonFrom filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson (Force of Nature) comes this meditation on the torrential rains of India.  Beginning around June of every year, the annual monsoons decent upon India.  This incomparably vast weather system affects the country in multiple different ways, including being India’s primary source of water for drinking and farming.  Over the course of the monsoon season, meteorologists will examine it, bookies will take bets on the arrival of rainfall, and families living below sea level will have to adjust their living conditions for this force of nature.

Monsoon is a documentary, which follows the monsoon over the course of a single season.  The narration by director Sturla Gunnarsson describes the monsoon as if it was some mythical entity descending upon India.  Indeed, the monsoon season is big part of Indian culture, with rainy scenes on the streets of Mumbai often being a part of Bollywood movies.  The monsoon also provides India with its primary water supply, with the torrential rainfall being collected in dams or even just barrels.

Much of Monsoon is a pure audio-visual experience, particularly when the monsoon season officially starts, which results in the film transitioning into a montage of torrential rain and music.  However, there are also a number of individuals who are fallowed over the course of the film.  One of the key subjects is a 12 year old girl named Akhila and her family, who live in the Kerala backwaters and are only protected from the flooding waters by a series of levees.  Another memorable character is a bookie named Bishnu Shastri, who comes off as quite sure about the odds for rainfall and is willing to make a bet with anyone.

While the monsoon is a major element of India’s economy, the people of the country also have an immense spiritual connection to the annual storm.  There are scenes in the film, where people will stop in the street to pray and the narration reinforces the belief of the monsoon as a God-like entity.  However, there are also downsides to this storm, as the flooding would force people from their homes or cause endangered animals to flee in the direction of poachers.  There are also some areas of India which aren’t hit by the monsoon at all and have to cope with drought.

Monsoon is definitely a very reflective documentary, which is best seen on as big a screen as possible.  The film was shot on 4K cameras and their are definitely some great mixtures of visuals and music within the film.  While most of the film is perfectly suitable for all viewers, there is a scene involving the slaughter of goats, which might disturb some.

Altogether, Monsoon is a compelling look at this annual force of nature.

★ ★ ★ ★ | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).