CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Delhi is India’s National Capital, and as of 2020, it is also one of the top 10 worst polluted cities in the world. Out of the other nine, India holds every spot except for number one, which belongs to Hotan, China. The causes of Delhi’s pollution issues are numerous, including crop burning from neighboring states, the number of motor vehicles on the road, the amount of construction that occurs, as well as industrial pollution. The very polluted air has led to many civilians falling ill, including filmmaker Rahul Jain, causing him to investigate and raise awareness of this issue that is quickly getting out of hand. Invisible Demons is his exposé on one of India’s most polluted cities.
The documentary forgoes the usual talking-heads route, meaning there’s not much dialogue. Rather than continuously give out an overload of information, the filmmaker lets the images of daily life in Delhi do the talking. The film shows quite shocking video of what the pollution has done to Delhi. Citizens fight to get jugs of clean water with rivers being almost completely black due to waste contamination, cows eat plastic bags in a landfill, and several members of many families having respiratory issues. In one scene, a doctor uses a camera to look into a patient’s lungs and what he finds is startling. The patient’s lungs are discolored and black due to breathing in the air of the city.
“Citizens fight to get jugs of clean water with rivers being almost completely black due to waste contamination…”
Sometimes documentaries have a pouring of information that can be hard to keep up with. But thanks to the visual horrors, Invisible Demons lets its images do most of the talking and we get to make judgments ourselves based on what we see. There is input from the narrator here and there, but it is probably less than five minutes in total. Most of the dialogue in the film comes from the people of Delhi, who know better than anyone how the polluted air has affected them. Indian culture is known to be filled with religion, and at one point, a local questions his faith as he believes that the Gods and nature cannot clean up the mess that humans have done to this specific region and the world at large.
To play devil’s advocate, a farmer is interviewed, saying that he has no other choice but to use different scientific methods that create pollution because he earns more money when he has more to harvest. He says that if he did things the healthier way, it would be harder for him to make a living. Hearing the two different points of view are needed, although the documentary lends heavily to one side way more than the other.
Documentaries on environmental issues can often be hard to watch because it is difficult to see and hear the truth. Invisible Demons is tough to watch because of the shocking images and facts presented, but it is done with purpose. The purpose is that we all need to start living cleaner and healthier lives so we can avoid getting to the point of no return.
Invisible Demons screened at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
"…tough to watch because of the shocking images and facts presented..."