out of Five
Running time: 100
A draining, but detailed documentary, Breath of the Gods presents an insightful look at the origins of Yoga, but its slow narrative and low entertainment value can make it a little difficult to watch.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Jan Schmidt-Garre, Breath of the Gods is a documentary that journeys back to the origins of modern yoga. According to Indian tradition, yoga goes directly back to Lord Shiva; however, what many people don’t know is that it also originated in the early 20th century and was created by Indian scholar T. Krishnamacharya.
In Breath of the Gods, Garre and his team visit India and explore the life and teachings of Krishnamacharya, speaking to the late spiritual teacher’s relatives and former students to present a better understanding of a form that is now practiced by tens of millions of people around the globe.
Jan Schmidt-Garre presents a very passionate film and through his admirable hands-on approach (in many scenes, Garre even tries out some challenging Yoga moves), he ably presents a detailed look at the subject, which will no doubt appeal to yoga fanatics. The black and white historic footage of Krishnamacharya, his prize pupils and even his two young daughters practicing the phenomenon can be magnetic to watch and these scenes provide welcome relaxing breaks throughout the film. Finally, the tranquil score is also soothing to listen to and its many step-by-step tips will appeal to those after some Yoga guidance.
Unfortunately, Breath of the Gods lacks that unique spark and compelling energy to attract a wide range of audiences and so for those uninterested in the exercise, this documentary can look very unappetising. Furthermore, the film’s tendency to linger on a lot of unappealing scenes (for example, the long-winded shots of Garre meditating are particularly difficult to stick with) can grow quickly arduous and the garish, white subtitles can be a little painful on the eyes. It could be argued that Breath of the Gods possesses a deliberately slow pace because of the nature of yoga itself, but it sadly lacks the personality, persuasion and entertainment value to make it stand out and stick in the mind afterwards.
Breath of the Gods is a passionate and enlightening documentary, but those without the curiosity to explore the global yoga phenomenon will find it a little difficult to stick with. When it comes to watching, let your interest in the subject decide.