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Identifier: Film Collection no. 201

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Lerner Australia-New Zealand Expedition, 1939. During a sidetrip to Bali, with Michael Lerner and his wife Helen, photographer James Barnes Shackelford made a film of the life and customs of the Balinese. The film opens with maps of Bali and the Lesser Sunda Islands and scenes of the Balinese engaged in everyday activities. Extensive footage is devoted to the growing and cultivation of rice on hillside terraces. The Balinese custom of imprinting ducks on humans is illustrated in a sequence in which a Balinese man herds a flock of ducks to a rice paddy; while he works the ducks scatter, and then regroup at his signal and follow him home. The Lerners feed macaques among the ruins of a temple (probably Sange, on the slopes of Balukao). Cockfighting, the national sport, is seen as well. The cremation ceremony of Bali is a happy occasion, for according to Balinese religion only when the physical body is destroyed can the soul be freed to reunite with the Supreme Being. Here, a member of the Brahman caste is being cremated: his body is encased in a full sarcophagus (denoting his caste), which is placed on a wadah, an elaborately decorated cremation tower. Shackelford films the procession, as well as the cremation. The final sequence is devoted to four Balinese dances clearly showing the costumes and the gamelan orchestra instruments: the legong, a classical dance; the djanger, a folkdance; a kebyar duduk, performed in a seated position; and a cresses, done in a trance-like state in which the dancers turn knives upon themselves.


  • 1939

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (41 minutes) : silent, color ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (41 minutes)) : silent, color ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print.



James B. Shackelford, photographer.

Bali, 1939
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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