Natural History : Part 2- Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ritwik Kumar Ghatak

Theme of nature abounds the film of both Ghatak and Pasolini. History is being temporalized through the passing of nature, yet, this transience comes forth with death and filth. Nature is allegorized as myth. In Ghatak’s Ajantrik (1958), the car is demolished, the only  way for Bimal to get sustenance. Yet it consoles him to see the child playing with the car. The breaking of the car, which is agog with human quality, underlines transience. Transience of mechanical, even human, to nature. The story itself is an allegorical tale of transience of nature, the car, human and natural object of desire for Bimal. In Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), Nita’s story is the allegorical story of passing of nature towards nature, and beneath lies the mammoth tragedy of human. All that is human, in Ghatak , is terribly childlike and durable to the mythic forces of nature. The acts in cinema reminds one of pre-enlightenment, or even pre-religious myth, where human is sacrificed in a ritualistic setting.  Subernerekha (1962) is played in a desert-like setting, dry, full with mythic passions of human soul. Throughout the film, we are aware of foreboding and of tragic brooding in the sets. The fateful bar sequence is a tragic play of foreboding, after which, brother finds himself in a brothel, before his sister. The city is of loss of memory, no remembrance of “atomic war, famine, riots”, yet it is the groundless space, where tragedy takes place. In Titas Ekti Nodir Naam (1973), the last sequence is of a boy crying amidst the river, gradually growing dry, waterless. And the community dependent upon it,  is gradually erased and turned in groundless existence. In short, Ghatak’s films play out the contradiction between nature and history, where nature turns into a mythic force from history, and renders human to oblivion.

Pasolini’s films  are very directly conditioned through myth, amidst the heartless setting of nature, which always turns human into non-entity. Foreboding reminds of a forthcoming tragedy. No one is given a respite from the tragic forces of mythical nature. Nature, the cinematic settings, always reminds of an arid, dry desert-like place, or rocky land with shrubs, where individual is sacrificed by the impersonal forces. Pasolini’s films excess and drama refers to the excess of nature, temporalized and at the same time eternalized, through cinematic settings . In Oedipus Rex (1967), in the end, Oedipus wanders through the place where he was born years ago, now abandoned industrial area. Powerful myth, naturalized, takes toll over human. It is as Adorno will say of natural history as, memory of nature in the subject. Or, the condition where mythical forces from nature, manipulates the subject as memory-less. In his Negative Dialectics (1966), natural history is referred as the problem of perceiving meaning in transience of nature. Of achieving the nature or natural in history as second nature. The meaning can be found only in the ruins of nature or even history. In the world of conventions, it can be seen that it’s meaning can be found only in the transience of all conventions. In the end, it can be noted that in Pasolini’s Salo or 120 Days of Sodom (1975),  the story allegorizes the condition of anal-birth as a ritualistic offering to the god of sodomy. It is the condition of decay, a point where history and nature stops interacting, and both turns impotent, without the possibility of any regeneration.

Jeet Bhattacharya
Latest posts by Jeet Bhattacharya (see all)

2 thoughts on “Natural History : Part 2- Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ritwik Kumar Ghatak”

Leave a Reply