Documentary Review: Dark Red Forest (2021) by Jin Huaqing

“Darkish Crimson Forest” was shot on the greatest Tibetan Buddhism monastery in China, Yarchen, within the span of a yr, documenting the completely different features of the nuns’ yearly routine. Because the film opens, we see them put together for 100 day winter retreat, which a lot of them spend in specifically made micro huts. The freezing chilly climate, coupled with the thinness of their shacks’ partitions is juxtaposed with the quiet fervor of their follow. We then see them take part in a six-month-long sutra research, adopted by a short summer season respite wherein some do prostrations, whereas the youthful members of the group dance, ready and getting ready for an additional arduous winter retreat.

As various because the life inside this monastery city is, there’s a single fixed of their yearly cycle – demise. From the primary minutes of the documentary till its closing scene, we’re consistently reminded of it, typically via direct and, frankly, moderately brutal pictures of the Tibetan sky burial. We’re reminded of it additionally not directly, by nuns breaking their lifeless sisters’ shacks or by the vultures who’re by no means too distant from the grounds of the sprawling monastery. However most of all, we’re reminded of demise via among the faces within the sea of nuns. Lots of them look drained, sick, or each. None of them displays unhappiness or resignation, even within the troublesome situations they stay in.

Jin Huaqing chooses to forego two of the mainstays of documentary filmmaking, the interview and specializing in a predominant topic, and as a substitute adopts a way more observational strategy wherein his digicam jumps from a topic to a different, watching every nun carry completely different duties akin to cooking and finding out to visiting the physician and getting dharma lectures by a monk sitting offscreen. A purpose for the choice to observe quite a few individuals versus one might need been the nuns themselves, who might need not needed to be adopted by a digicam for lengthy durations of time and have their follow hindered or probably one thing else. We’re by no means advised and it doesn’t matter as a result of it really works for a terrific benefit of the movie, exhibiting us the communal facet of the nuns’ lives. In any case, they’re all within the monastery complicated striving to penetrate the Buddha’s teachings and transcend the ego and the selfish view of the world. And what extra selfish is there than having oneself be the main focus of a whole film?

Visually, “Darkish Crimson Forest” additionally appears to favor the group expertise as a substitute of the person one. Repeatedly we see seas of ochre-clothed nuns strolling slowly and attentively in the direction of a single vacation spot, be it the monastery or the grounds round it. We’re additionally proven many panorama pictures of forests of robes in surrounded by among the most breathtaking backgrounds in latest reminiscence.It’s as if the nuns and the character are indistinguishable, residing in excellent unison. This surroundings is usually punctuated with closeups that give us significant element, a nun finding out, a novice reciting, one other one consuming. The micro and the macro meld to create a poetic depiction of religious attempt.

For almost all of its runtime, the documentary omits probably the most essential particulars in regards to the monastery complicated, the truth that it’s situated in China and as such, it’s a topic to the regime’s politics. In reality, the film creates the misunderstanding that the monastery city just isn’t a part of the state and is self-regulating. Sadly, within the final half an hour or so, via pictures of Chinese language propaganda banners, we study that it isn’t and the federal government plans on integrating the area by “modernizing” it and forcibly relocating a lot of the ten 000 inhabitants, a lot of which nuns. For numerous causes, the film doesn’t linger on the explanations for uprooting the women, a few of which have lived within the monastery for almost all of their acutely aware lives. It determined to not present on display screen the Chinese language invaders, as a substitute, presenting them as an unseen and undesirable institutional drive. As one thing that has no place within the harsh, but surreal and idyllic world proven to us on this well timed documentary.

By IPTV

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