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Beyond Words (1997 film)

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Beyond Words
File:Meher Baba 13.jpg
Screenshot from Beyond Words
Directed byLouis van Gasteren
StarringMeher Baba
CinematographyJan de Bont
Spectrum Film
Distributed bySheriar Foundation
Release date
1997, 2008
Running time
28 min.

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Gatefold of Pete Townshend's 1972 Who Came First album with stills from Beyond Words, twenty five years before the film's release

Beyond Words is a 1997 documentary film directed by Louis van Gasteren of Meher Baba in 1967. Cinematography was by Jan de Bont.[1][2]

Shot in India partly in 1967 in 35mm film and partly thirty years later in 1997 in video, Beyond Words is one of only few films ever shot of the silent master Meher Baba that include synchronized sound and the only film shot of him in color 35mm.[citation needed] In the film Van Gasteren interviews Meher Baba on finding God within the self, and questions him on drugs and cinema.[3][better source needed] Meher Baba's silent gestures are interpreted in English by his disciple Eruch Jessawala.[4][self-published source?]

The Meher Baba footage in Beyond Words was originally shot for a feature film Van Gasteren was making in the 1960s, titled Nema aviona za Zagreb. The film stalled in 1969 and remained unfinished for decades. Although Gasteren did not show the 1967 footage of Baba for 30 years, he allowed Pete Townshend of The Who to include two still frames from it inside the gatefold of his 1972 Meher Baba tribute album Who Came First.[citation needed] Gasteren finally decided to release the unseen footage of Baba in the shorter film Beyond Words in 1997. This short is one of Gasteren's best known internationally works.[5] The full-length film Nema Aviona Za Zagreb was eventually completed and released in 2012.[6]


The film begins in 1967 with extremely exotic and unusual scenes of a mast (a kind of Sufi God-intoxicated person that Baba worked with), followed by a scene of Baba washing the feet of lepers. Next the filmmaker greets Baba with a bougainvillea branch and proceeds to interview him on God-realization, drugs, and cinema. The film ends with a much older Van Gasteren returning to India three decades later in a reunion with Eruch Jessawala who originally interpreted Baba's gestures. Meher Baba has long died as the now more mature men exchange words and photos. Also in the final scenes, Louis van Gasteren dons a red turban that Meher Baba had given him during their meeting in 1967 and which he had not worn for 30 years. The turban was later donated to the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach.

See also[edit]

  • Nema Aviona Za Zagreb
  • Louis van Gasteren


  1. "On Sacred Ground: Filming the Avatar". www.ambppct.org. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  2. "Hollands Dagboek Louis van Gasteren". NRC (in Nederlands). December 6, 1997. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  3. Kalchuri, Bhau: "Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba", Manifestation, Inc. 1986. p. 6531
  4. Meher Baba Association – UK Archived September 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. "A Century Minus 10". SEE NL 09. Netherlands Film Fund and EYE Film Institute Netherlands. Nov 11, 2012. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  6. "Een autobiografie op het snijvlak van feit en fictie". NRC (in Nederlands). Retrieved 2019-09-13.

External links[edit]

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