AA hybrid of documentary and fiction art, Cloud Never Left zooms in on the codeine life in Daspara, a small village in West Bengal, where toys are made from the footage of dismissed films. The imagery is clear: these pieces of film are full of old memories and aspirations, and now witness the beauty and hard work of manual labor.
On the surface, a cloud is never left that is structurally scattered, even indistinct. There is an opening title that states that this is a work of fiction rather than a documentary. This is actually quite blasphemous, considering that narrative is not a priority here, nor is any professional actor used. Instead, the film draws letters, and sees the villagers in pieces: a marital dispute over finances, a mother waiting for the monsoon, a boy looking for trash in the woods. This combination of life from around the world and magical dreams makes this small village even more dazzling, as if the contents of cut-up movie strips have entered everyday life.
In visual terms, that cloud neural left is just as selective and experimental, scanning the altered strips between straight scenes of the toy assembly where the images are scratched and understandable. The sound mix also contributes to this: the murmur of the landscape, the steady heavy score barriers, and the news and TV reports of war and unrest, as well as an impending eclipse. The blue of old Hindi movies, dialogues and songs are floating around.
The harmony of these elements is quite pleasing, but there is more to mining than just that. Scrap film footage will be dumped in poor villages like Daspara for recycling from India’s richest cities, meaning nothing more than a stylistic exercise in cloud cloud lift experience and nostalgia. There is a tough economic reality here.
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