The Sword and the Flute

1959/U.S., 20 minutes

  • Music: Ustad Ali Akbar Khan
  • Music: T. Visvanathan
  • Music: Ravi Shankar
  • Narrator: Saeed Jaffrey
  • Director: James Ivory
  • Producer: James Ivory
  • Screen Writer: James Ivory
  • Editor: James Ivory
  • Photographer: Mindaugis Bagdon
  • More
Ivory's second documentary, The Sword and The Flute, also dealing with schools of art, grew out of his experience in making Venice: Theme and Variations. Only here, instead of photographing works by the Italian masters, he has used superb examples of Indian miniature paintings. Ivory's intelligent script, narrated with feeling by Saeed Jaffrey, and accompanied by the music of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, traces the history of Indian miniature painting after the Moghul invasion as it develops into two principal schools, the Moghul (Muslim) and the Rajput (Hindu). The Moghul miniatures reflect an interest in historical events and the life of the court, while those of the Rajput emphasize otherworldly concerns, the yearning for transcendence, but both involve the viewer immediately in a world that is exotic and ravishing. Ivory is fascinated by the faces (and prominent eyes) of his figures, the garments they wear, and the sharply noted details of their surroundings: the figures seem almost to leap at the viewer. Compared to Venice, the dramas Ivory creates through the Indian scenes are tauter and give a greater sense of complexity, which comes in part from the tension in Ivory between his intellectual role as a close observer of culture and his intimate, empathetic response to the paintings' exceptional sensuousness and romantic feeling. The cameraman for the film was another USC cinema student, Mindaugis Bagdon, and his and Ivory's photography of the Indian miniatures proved so effective that Ivory would use the technique later, also with striking effect, in his film Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures.

Crew

  • Music: Ustad Ali Akbar Khan
  • Music: T. Visvanathan
  • Music: Ravi Shankar
  • Narrator: Saeed Jaffrey
  • Director: James Ivory
  • Producer: James Ivory
  • Screen Writer: James Ivory
  • Editor: James Ivory
  • Photographer: Mindaugis Bagdon

Photos