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Ritualized warfare in New Guinea, 1963

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Published on Jul 25, 2015

Information about this clip: This clip is a 12-minute edit of the 85-minutes long, 1963 documentary 'Dead Birds' by Robert Gardner. This edit only shows the battle sequences. All other footage is cut. ___ "The battle sequences are made up of many shots taken during different battles and stitched together to give the appearance of temporal unity. The apparent continuity stems from the post-synchronized sound, and in fact all the sound in the film is post-synched." "...some of the battle films were edited out of sequence and intercut with scenes from the women at the salt pool..." Source: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Bi...) This edit has those removed (scenes from the women at the salt pool). ___ From the directors site; http://www.robertgardner.net/dead-birds/ : 'Dead Birds'. Robert Gardner, 1964 Runtime: 85 minutes. Dead Birds is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Papua. When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had a classic Neolithic culture. They were exceptional in the way they dedicated themselves to an elaborate system of ritual warfare. Neighboring groups, separated by uncultivated strips of no man’s land, engaged in frequent battles. When a warrior was killed in battle or died from a wound and even when a woman or a child lost their life in an enemy raid, the victors celebrated and the victims mourned. Because each death needed to be avenged, the balance was continually adjusted by taking life. There was no thought of wars ever ending, unless it rained or became dark. Wars were the best way they knew to keep a terrible harmony in a life that would be, without them, much drearier and unimaginable. ___ Excerpts from an October 2013 article and interview by Corydon Ireland with Gardner about the film and its sequel; (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story...) ; - "Dead Birds”, a lyrical study of the lives, beliefs, practices, and ritual warfare of the Dugum Dani peoples in the remote Grand Valley in the highlands of western New Guinea. - At the invitation of the Dutch government, Gardner and a small team spent six months in 1961 filming what were then thought to be the world’s last practitioners of Neolithic culture, with stone tools, clan-sized villages, pervasive magic, and ritual warfare.
- The protagonists are two Dani tribesmen: Weyak, a farmer and warrior who guarded one fringe of his village’s frontier, and Pua, a dreamy and hapless boy of 8 who herded swine for his grandfather.
- Gardner in 1961 was filming long-ago humanity, when people generally were bound to each other by magic and ancient paths, and to an ideal of war whose object was not annihilation but tribal honor. (Each tribal death required revenge for another, an accountancy that kept a cycle of war slowly turning.) - Intimate portraits of daily life as it likely was in the Stone Age, with feasts, funerals, farming, pig herding, raids, gestures of magic, and in this case long treks to the tribe’s one source of salt. - The Dani were completely unaware of what the whirring film cameras did. “My camera,” Gardner wrote later, “was no more or less interesting than my belt buckle.” ___ “Dead Birds” was a “different film” at its first screening: 110 minutes long instead of the 85-minute duration of its official release in 1964. The longer film? “I have it around somewhere,” said Gardner. ___

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