This is the fifth and final film in renowned ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall’s Doon School Quintet, his long-term study of India’s most prestigious boys’ boarding school. In this film he focuses on the life of one student whom he discovers at the school. The film explores the thoughts and feelings of Abhishek, a 12-year-old from Nepal, during his first days and weeks as a Doon student.
This remarkable and intimate documentary is at once the story of the encounter between a filmmaker and his subject and a glimpse into the mind of a child at “the age of reason.”
Along with “Doon School Chronicles,” “With Morning Hearts,” “Karam in Jaipur,” and “The New Boys,” this compelling individual and cultural portrait will take its place among the classics of ethnographic cinema. It will stimulate thought and discussion in a wide range of classes in cultural anthropology, Asian and Indian studies, visual anthropology, education and childhood studies, and post-colonial studies.
Note: The DVD version of the film is fully authored, with menus and chapter markers put in by the filmmaker. It also features optional closed captions, which the VHS version does not have.
“It was a remarkable decision to end the Doon School series with this portrait of one child, after having moved progressively closer to it in the earlier, more collective and group-oriented films. The Age of Reason demonstrates once again how respectful MacDougall is of his young subjects in all of these films. This peculiar tact is rare in representations of children´s lives and can teach other filmmakers much about ethical concerns and awareness. Here Abhishek, the 12-year-old from Nepal, seems in fact to invite MacDougall to share the actual moments of his emerging self-awareness, as a child becoming a responsible adult. We follow the formation of his patterns of sociability, his emerging agency as a growing adolescent encountering new rituals and social constraints, his personal discoveries, and the processes by which he learns. Never seen simply as an “assimilated” subject, Abhishek shares with the filmmaker, and with an attentive audience, the building up of a particular way of “reasoning” in the world — as it occurs, and in context.” — Rossella Ragazzi, maker of the film La Mémoire Dure
“I loved it… elegantly shot, understated, nudging the boundaries between observation and authorial engagement.” — Michael Renov, Prof. of Critical Studies, Univ. of Southern California; editor of Theorizing Documentary and author of The Subject of Documentary
Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
Beeld voor Beeld Festival (Amsterdam) honoree
Nordic Anthropological Film Assn. Festival (Stockholm) honoree
Festival Interuniversitaire de Films Ethnographique de Montréal (Canada) honoree