In the 1970s, filmmaker and artist Velu Viswanadhan began his series of five films about the elements. This last part is about ether, the invisible essence of all matter. Setting out without a preconceived plan, structure or narrative, Viswanadhan’s film takes the form of a visual voyage through India, with the camera focused on the many aspects of life, both material and immaterial.
Long tracking shots through city streets and rural landscapes and slow zooms of people engaged in all kinds of activities are intercut with facial close-ups. The camera immerses us in the bustle of a city market and the tranquillity amidst the overgrown remnants of old temples; it shows us a funeral procession accompanying the body of a dead person to the cremation spot, and a group of women singing and dancing by the river. With no interpretations in the form of titles or voice-overs, these images provide a mesmeric film experience.