Visions of Post-Independence India in Arne Sucksdorff’s Documentaries

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This article studies two post-war documentary films set in India, Indian Village (1951) and The Wind and the River (1953), directed by the celebrated Swedish filmmaker Arne Sucksdorff. While many scholars have studied these films in relation to Sucksdorff’s biography and Swedish national cinema, less emphasis has been placed on these Indian documentaries in relation to other international documentary work that took place in India during the post-independence period. The excursion to India took place on commission from the Swedish Cooperative Union and Wholesale Society and therefore the films are studied in relation to Charles R. Acland and Haidee Wasson’s notion of “useful cinema.” In doing so, this article emphasizes the didactic ideas behind the production of sponsored film and the way in which ideas of the welfare state were projected onto post-independence India. Reading these documentaries against the grain, this article also addresses the question of how these films affected the authorial discourse surrounding Arne Sucksdorff and conversely what impact his films had among critics and filmmakers in India.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-102
JournalBioScope: South Asian Screen Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Studies on Film

Free keywords

  • Arne Sucksdorff
  • Indian documentary history
  • useful cinema
  • transnational film
  • nation-building
  • welfare state


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