Juxtaposing the Salt March
Colin Ross contrasts the protesters that joined Mahatma Gandhi at the Salt March with marching British soldiers and Hindu rituals in Varanasi.
Ross was preparing to leave for Europe when he heard of Gandhi’s plan for the protest march against British rule of India. This prompted a trip to the district of Gujarat in western India, where Ross witnessed the march at an early stage in mid-March 1930. It is the only time Ross reports on an important news event during his Oceania-Asia trip, including an sit-down interview with Gandhi. (see: That “mangy beggar” called Gandhi)
This excerpt contains the footage Ross shot at the occasion as well as two elements to contextualize it. Editing for contrast, Ross juxtaposes the marching protesters with British soldiers in formation. In most shots, he has each walk to the foreground from opposite directions, suggesting a future clash. The contrast is made more glaring in the complete film’s soundtrack, with a military march under the marching soldiers and softly plucked string music when he shows Gandhi and a man with a sitar next to him.
While these contrasts spell out the fight against colonial oppression in a way that seems to have resonated forcefully with some leftist reviewers (see: Praise from a communist newspaper),1 another juxtaposition suggests resistance to political commitment among the population of India. “India expects Gandhi to deliver it from its hardships. The Indian soul, however, strives to attain nirvana”, Ross explains on the complete film’s soundtrack and thereby provides a transition to footage he shot of Hindu ablutions in the Ganges in Varanasi. Ross will go on to stress, in Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! Das Doppelgesicht des Ostens (1930) and elsewhere, that fervent Hindu religiosity placates rather than galvanizes the fight against British colonial rule.2
Colin Ross: Indien, Ceylon - Benares, Gandhi [archive title]
Excerpt from: Colin Ross. Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! Das Doppelgesicht des Ostens. Germany: Ufa/Ullstein; 1930.
35mm | b&w | silent | 250m | 16 fps | 14’
Master: 0003-02-0302_IndienCeylon_ProRes-422HQ_24fps_MOS.mov; 0:05:57,12-0:07:31,11
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30
1 See: Fritz Rosenfeld. Raum ohne Volk - Volk ohne Raum. Arbeiter-Zeitung. 1931 Jan 20; 44 (20): 6. See Library.
2 See: Colin Ross. Umstrittenes Indien. Berlin: Reimar Hobbing; 1930; 21–23, 43–44. See Library.