In the pale diffused light of an overcast afternoon, a woman traces the spice routes of antiquity on her lover's back. She tells her story with the scent of cinnamon, the golden stain of tumeric and the heat of chili.
Fleeting Beauty is a lyrical film that provokes us to reconsider the lessons handed down in history textbooks. While it recounts the travel and enterprise of ancient voyagers in search of spices, it describes how these journeys are benchmarks of colonization. In telling this story of exploration and exploitation, Fleeting Beauty does something brave...it reverses the notion that the scars of history are written on a woman’s body. Instead we see an Indian woman rewriting history on a white man’s body. The romantic adventures of male travellers over many centuries come to an ironic finale, when the supine man howls in agony as he hobbles to the bathroom to wash the pepper off his privates.
Fleeting Beauty challenges the idea of the colonial male gaze by denying theman access to the woman’s artwork. But the film is also a meditation on the transitory nature of creation and beauty, permanence and temporality. The woman surrenders her creation to the moment while the man desires to fix it forever.
What makes Fleeting Beauty appealing is that while it makes us think about our intertwined colonial histories, it also makes us laugh. Through the magic of her designs on her lover’s body, our mistress of spice reveals dramatic anecdotes of power, conquest and surrender. And like beauty, power can also be fleeting--subject to change, reversal, and surprise!
Sound is an integral and evocative dimension of this film. Conjuring distant times and places along the spice routes, we use geographically specific musical variations on a central theme. Our composer, internationally renowned musician Tom Bailey, has capitalized upon the emotive and visceral links between taste and sound.