Documentary Review: ‘All That Breathes’

Greetings again from the darkness. The expert photography and artistic approach taken by Shaunak Sen in his documentary is quite something to behold, even as the message may be a bit heavy-handed. His opening shot perfectly captures all of this, as a sea of rats scrounges for food through the trash while the headlights of an approaching car drive home the point that it’s the humans who have thrown things out of balance.

Most of the film is focused on two brothers, Nadeem and Saud, who have dedicated much of their lives to wildlife rescue … especially as it relates to Kite Birds. Now you may consider yourself a nature lover and even an environmentalist, but these two have reportedly treated over 20,000 birds. That’s what I mean by dedication!

Documentarian Sen has crafted a film that is simultaneously neither and both a nature and climate change film. New Delhi is one of the world’s most overpopulated and polluted cities. The film is meant to remind us that all creatures must breathe the same air, and when that air is so bad that birds drop from the sky, it can be assumed that the other beings of the area – people, rats, dogs, cows, pigs, mosquitoes – are also being negatively impacted.

These brothers believe that their efforts may have a spiritual or religious payoff, but mostly they believe one should make the difference they are able to make, even if that difference is to the Kite birds flying above. We also understand that it’s humans who have corrupted the air and land, and are the force behind wars being fought. Despite all, it’s nature that persists, even if society may not. Sen’s film may be a bit long, but he ensures all viewers understand.

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