Marguerite Duras
India Song, 1975, 120 minutes
6:15 PM, Visual Arts Presentation Lab, SME 149

In India Song, Marguerite Duras cast Delphine Seyrig as Anne-Marie Stretter, the wife of a French Ambassador in Calcutta. Set in mid-1930s, the film was inspired by two of Duras’s novels The Ravishing of Lol Stein (1964) and The Vice-Consul (1965). First seen at Cannes in 1975, India Song became a hit for its use of voiceover with little synchronized dialogue and the recurring dance music composed by Carlos d’Alessio in a 1930s style. The remoteness of the representation is a clear indictment for the lack of contact between European colonizers and the country they ruled. Shot in various French locations, Duras wrote and directed India Song without any recourse to the original Indian context, preferring to direct attention to the main female character, her social milieu, and the unexpressed emotion of the people around her, and their embodiment in voice and music. As Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote, Seyrig is “marvelous to contemplate, as the camera does endlessly.”