Etnografisk film: Dead birds
- There was once a great race between a bird and a snake, which was to determine the lives of human beings. Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?
Director: Robert Gardner, 1963.
A record of ritualized warfare, made among the Sugun Dani in West New Guinea. The film was produced as part of the Harvard-Peabody Expedition to study the highlands of New Guinea, at that time one of the few remaining areas in the world uncolonized by Europeans. Neighboring groups, separated by uncultivated strips of no man’s land, engaged in frequent battles. The poetic meaning comes from the Dani belief that people, because they are like birds, must die. Dead Birds was an attempt to film a people from within and to see, when the chosen fragments were assembled, if they could speak not only about the Dani but also about ourselves.