In Forest of Bliss, Robert Gardner uses cremation rituals and funerary preparations as shorthand for the metaphysical ideas they reflect and realize. His understanding of those metaphysical ideas as fundamentally dialectical is reflected in the quotation from Yeats's translation of the Upanishads with which he begins the film: “Everything in this world is eater or eaten, the seed is food and fire is eater.”
Forest of Bliss spans the course of a metaphorical day. It begins with a boy seeming to pull the sun into the sky with his kite, and ends with the sun setting on a cremation. Unidentified men wake and perform their given ritual tasks. One travels down myriad stairways to the river to bathe and pray. Another, wealthier and more powerful, receives the bereaved.A third ritually blesses a boat, possibly one in which corpses are carried into the river. They laugh, grunt, burp, sing, fart, eat and everything else people do in the course of things. And about them the city teems with life. Dogs, birds, monkeys and sacred cows wander amidst crowds of people, all going about their business. (more...)
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