Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
The holy city of Benares, now under its old name of Varanasi, was already famous as a center of learning and sacred practices in 500 B.C. Death and cremation in the "eternal city" are the focus of this documentary by Robert Gardner. Three men: a medicine man or healer, a Hindu priest, and the head of the cremation grounds are the springboard for detailed views of funeral rites. The corpses are cremated along the ghats that border the hallowed Ganges River, the gray smoke from funeral pyres a mournful testimony to life's short span.