Film: 1860

Places + Locations | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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A film about Burma or Myanmar in the 1950s, giving an overview of general Burmese life, particularly concentrating on one family.

Still shot of men rowing down the river with the title and credits superimposed. A map of the world, zooming in to focus on an encircled area. Shown on the map, the Indo-Chinese Peninsula; arrows appear either side. Burma is then shown, with the locations of the country's two great rivers, the Irrawaddy and the Salween. An aerial shot of one of the rivers. A similar shot of a different stretch. Seen from a boat moving down the river, men on a small boat move through a stretch of water filled with ships. The men row to the small harbour. A sideways pan past the roofs of huts at rooftop level. The camera moves past a group of small boats at the harbour, and wooden huts on the shore; a ferryman rows his passengers across the river. Men row a boat made from a single tree trunk; two men at the back push an oar with their leg, one at either side.

A fertile valley used for growing rice, next to the river; a family walk past, the mother carrying a basket on her shoulder. They proceed to the river; the mother sets the basket down, and they all start to take clothes off in order to wash them. A woman scrubs clothes against a log in the river. Her daughter helps. The woman beats the clothes with a paddle. While she continues to do so, other Burmese people wash their clothes and their arms. A boy washes clothes. A man and a boy splash water over themselves, before walking to shore; the man picks up a net to catch fish with. He walks back out and throws it into the water. A boy tries the same. Two boys pull up separate nets, and see what they have caught. They do so again. The boy carries his catch back to the shore, where his mother is still beating clothes.

The family walk through their rice field, carrying scythes; they start harvesting the rice. One person cuts bunches of rice. The mother spins a grinding wheel around, while her daughter spoons rice into it at intervals. Close-up of the girl. A close shot of the grinding, and the resulting milk trickling down into a bucket. The family sitting outside their house, scooping rice into their bowls. They eat from their bowls. Close-up of the girl eating rice using the fingers of her right hand.

A top-to-bottom pan of the tall bamboo trees that grow in the forest; the family cut down a tree, which crashes to the ground with a thud. Holding the tree, the men trim the foliage from the trunk. Two people strip the bamboo trunks; another makes a mat from the strips. He threads the wood between strings, and pushes it to one end. This is shown from a straight ahead angle. The women of the household tie strands of bamboo onto a larger shoot, to go on the roof. A close-up shot of the mother doing this.

At the river, the men tie a tree trunk to their water buffalo. They walk the water buffalo along, and balance some wood on its back. One man rides the buffalo away from the river. The mother uses a loom, made from the hard forest wood, to make clothes. The daughter weaves a long skirt.

Many people gather at a bazaar; in the foreground, people arrive and leave, carrying baskets, sometimes with two baskets balanced on a wooden pole. The family walk past the various stalls. A close-up of one. The family stop at that stall, and a woman bends down. Close-up on a man boiling food in fat, wrapping it, and handing it to the woman. She takes it, and the family walk away.

A boy eats food on a tarmac road; a jeep drives past on the right, and the boy runs to join the family, who proceed towards a Buddhist temple. They continue to walk down the road. A large wooden figure like a man is moved about in the centre of the screen, while Burmese people perform a traditional dance. People dance, gathered in a circle. A man plays a steel drum amongst the festivities. A child dances around in a mask and with large wings. A man beats bongo drums; a man's shadow appears, before we see the man, performing a dance with knives.

A teacher teaches children to learn English. He points at the blackboard with a thin baton. They try saying the word on the blackboard - "doctor". A procession of children leave the school building. They talk together and play-fight. They walk across the grass.

In the tropical forest of the mountain region, a nomadic tribe gather outside; they eat food, and an elderly woman smokes. Men make a roof from bamboo strips attached to branches. Another shot of the same. Men sit atop elephants in the forest. An elephant drags a heavy log across the muddy bank of the river. The logs, tied together, are dragged across the river to the mill by a steam boat. The same as seen from the boat. Men ride upon the logs, making sure that none break away. At the mill, men measure the logs. A closer view of the same. A crane carries the heavy logs. It lifts one off the ground. A thin log is manually sawed through. Two men push a cart filled up with planks of wood.

Two men walk past a huge mound of bags of rice. A shot of the large sign "Rangoon Airport". An official waves an aircraft past for take-off. The aeroplane moves further down the runway. A small steamer moves left down the Irrawadi river, past several tall buildings. An aerial view of the factories and building works by the main harbour. At the docks, a man carries a container on his shoulder. He walks onto a boat, behind a line of others. A large ship, with a small transport boat moving past its side. Two more ships. A man rows past the side of one. An upwards-bearing shot of a ship's side.

The entire city, the golden spire of the Shwedagon pagoda poking out from amongst the trees. Passers-by ride bicycles past the giant statue outside the temple. A monk walks past the pillars and the steps of the temple, and past two people seated in wheelchairs. A market scene, with a close-up shot of a man. Three young men in tribal headgear. Malay people: a man hands strips of food to customers, a man and a woman. An elderly doctor gets a young female patient to open her mouth. Two men carry poles of wood on their backs, weights balanced either side, filled with logs. Men walking down a road. A busy road; a horse sits by the side, bearing a load. Children walking out of the school. "The End" superimposed over the same still photo of men rowing down the river.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 1860.