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Alain Danielou - the way to the labyrinth

This documentary film tells the story of an adventurous musical journey that follows the life of Alain Daniélou starting in Brittany, passing through India, to reach Berlin, Venice and Rome. It was in the Rewa Palace on the banks for the Ganga in Banares—now known as Varanasi—that Daniélou and his life partner, the Swiss photographer Raymond Burnier, made their home for fifteen years. Here Daniélou became a Sanskrit scholar, converted to Hinduism, studied Indian classical music, the Veena to a professional level, and wrote various books on Vedic studies, Hindu philosophy and Shivaism.

On his return to Europe in 1961, he founded and directed the International Institute for Comparative Studies and Documentation in Berlin where he recorded the first World Music Collection for UNESCO.

Indian music, dance, religion, and tradition measured against modernity, sculpture and philosophy are all issues explored in this documentary through the eyes and the autobiography of Daniélou himself, with the main focus being on traditional Indian Music.

Two full HD Canon 5D cameras with live audio reveal the brightness, colours and richness of the pulsating and never-changing India where age-old rituals are still part of everyday life.

Concerts, dance performances and daily life episodes are mixed with exclusive archive footage, pictures and recordings of Daniélou’s time.

The shooting itinerary in India passes through New Delhi, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Kolkata, Shantiniketan, Bhubaneshwar, Konarak, Puri, Gurgaon, Chennai, Mamallapuram, Puducherry, Chidambaram, focusing especially on the Shantiniketan School, Varanasi and the life of the great Ganges river, the Mishra family Music School, classical engagement ceremony between the musicians’ families, concerts, and performances.

In Europe, significant places and friends were filmed; Venice, where he founded the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies (today part of the Giorgio Cini Foundation in San Giorgio Maggiore), Zagarolo near Rome, where Daniélou in 1969 created the Harsharan Foundation, now renamed as theAlain Daniélou Foundation for New Dialogues, which is the financer of this documentary. And other shoots in Berlin, Paris, Lausanne, Brittany, and in New York and the US.

INTO THE LABYRINTH - Alain DaniélouThe HD material has been enriched by the extensive photographic archive of the Alain Daniélou Foundation, consisting of approximately nine thousand original photographs taken in India between 1935 and 1955 by Alain Daniélou and Raymond Burnier.

In addition, several interviews with Alain Daniélou’s friends, acquaintances, musicians, dancers and international leading figures of Indology and Musicology: Sophie Bassouls, Bettina Baumer, Nicola Biondi, Abani Biswas, Carla Bonò, C.V. Chandrasekhar, Debu Chaudury, Subroto Roy Chowdury, Jacques Cloarec, Jean Paul Cluzel, Werner Durand, Giovanni Giuriati, Lars Koch, Yamini Krishnamurti, André Kudelski, Raghunath Manet, Maria Grazia Marchianò, Gabriel Matzneff, Amarnath Mishra, Neeraj Mishra, Ravi Shankar Mishra, Dominique Nabokov, Savitry Nair, Jean Pierre Pastori, Marie-Claude Pietragalla, Ritwik Sanyal, Malavika Sarukkai, Mallika Sarabhai Dance Company, Shantala Shivalingappa, Reba Som, Padma Subramanyam, Shubdal Tinkari, Emanuele Trevi, Ivan Vandor, Kapila Vatsyayan, Roman Vlad, Eric Vu An, Albrecht Wiedmann.

Other interviews:

Taru Kanti Basu, Samuel Berthet, Ugo Bonessi, Radha Burnier, Silvano Bussotti, Francesca Cassio, Claude Cellier, Jean Clausel, Amelia Cuni, Kenneth Hurry, Swaminathan Kalidas, Krishan Kannah, Anand Krishna, Stefan Kudelski, André Larquié, Giorgio Milanetti, Bernard Mueller, Peter Pannke, Roberto Perinu, Guillaume Pires, Anne Prunet, Harihara Raghavan, Bodhirupa Sinha, Alberto Sorbelli, Raffaele Torella, Anne Tual.

Most of these European locations and interviews are meant to be used for a DVD Bonus disc and to add to the archives of the Alain Daniélou Foundation.

In terms of the narrative, a first person narration is drawn from a selection of Daniélou’s autobiographical publication «The Way to the Labyrinth».