(I offer up my recent review of a film as a starting seed for further discussion on films and their metaphysical/spiritual and humane insights).
All That Breathes: A Film of Grace, Empathy, and Insight
Credit: HBO Documentary Films
All That Breathes (2022, directed by Shaunak Sen), a Hindi-language film about two brothers who care for injured kites in Delhi, is a documentary of exquisite grace and artistic expression in sight and sound: a pure, sublime distillation of Nurture finding power within the wild, untamed heart of Nature. With gliding, measured movement of pacing and camera, the film gently shapes us into a flow-state of deep connection with the brothers, their family, and the story – and with ourselves.
There exists a profound wisdom at the film’s core – humble and tender in form, yet wildly transformative in spirit – revealing itself most notably in the quiet and unobtrusive spaces between breaths and thoughts. Poetic yet grounded, the film conveys a narrative of resilience and dedication amidst the turbulent uncertainties of life and decay, and its theme invites us to elevate our global awareness and purpose through service to other life sharing this fragile, symbiotic home.
In watching this film – one of the best I’ve seen in recent years – I was reminded of the long, masterful tracking shots of Bela Tarr films (as with The Turin Horse, 2011), where like a great 19th century novel, we’re allowed space to absorb into the depth of moments and feelings, surrendering ourselves effortlessly scene-by-scene, becoming co-creators in the story’s direction and purpose.
All That Breathes slows time in a way, allowing for heightened senses and deepened perspective: small details at the visual periphery and sounds in the distance become more vibrant and integral to the woven tapestry and aims of the film – a fresh contrast to so much of the hurried, often perfunctory content in the wild these days. On this point, the film Koyaanisqatsi (1982) also came to mind (good company to be in) as another life-changing movie that was artful in using aspects of the filmic medium to shift one’s paradigm for seeing the world.
In the end, All That Breathes wasn’t just a film that took a couple of hours from my evening; it was an experience that, in a fashion, gave back time by showing ways to embrace the depth and quality of simple moments, particularly through acts of connection and empathy. It is also a film that speaks to honoring the sacredness of wildlife and nature, while reminding us of the small and large destructions we collectively unleash on our shared environments.
Each viewer may have a different response to this film, based on their frame of reference, yet I’d surmise many will be moved by the gentle elegance of the visuals, the hypnotic beauty of the score (by Roger Goula), and the effortless power of the film's words to convey immense insight. It is perhaps at the level of collective unconscious where I sense the shimmering of deepest impact, particularly upon hearing the film’s final sentence, which resonates with potent layers of soulful meaning:
“Can you hear me?”
-- Cosmo Rubiconis (Christopher)