The Day Is Done, Take Me Across: The Satyajit Ray Thread

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Doesn't seem to be one. Retrospective playing here this summer (not sure if it's complete). Watched Pather Panchali tonight, an all-time favourite, with the other two parts the next two nights. (Saw all three consecutively once--incredible experience.) There are so many moments that I count among the greatest in any film, topped by the close-up of Apu opening his eye when Durga wakes him. How much attention did Hitchcock pay to the rest of the world? Right near the end, when Apu throws the bracelet into the river and the water flowers close around it as he watches--burying evidence, in a sense, though obviously much more than just that--I thought of Perkins and the car in Psycho.

clemenza, Friday, 4 July 2014 03:28 (five years ago) link

Wikipedia calls Bosley Crowther's original review "scathing." Here's the review:

I wouldn't call it scathing, just amazingly condescending--even in the context of 1958, I'd like to believe:

Chief among the delicate revelations that emerge from its loosely formed account of the pathetic little joys and sorrows of a poor Indian family in Bengal is the touching indication that poverty does not always nullify love and that even the most afflicted people can find some modest pleasures in their worlds.

clemenza, Friday, 4 July 2014 05:40 (five years ago) link

Serious question: is there ever a time where Crowther is citied as being insightful, on point, and/or generally right about anything?

I need to have a Ray day around here soon. I love The Music Room, and I picked up both The Big City & Charulata in the last B & N Criterion sale, but haven't watched them yet. I actually missed a screening of the latter a few years ago because I had to go to a wake (oddly enough about 10 blocks from the theatre.)

The story about what happened to many of the o.g. elements of Ray's films is pretty sad.

Incident At Spanish Harlem (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 4 July 2014 05:52 (five years ago) link

Anyone seen Apur Panchali -

Ritwik Ghatak is great great too. We should perhaps branch into a Bengali films discussion.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 4 July 2014 09:49 (five years ago) link

Watched Music Room very recently - the use of music in both this and Pather Panchali is amazing, and in its way just as 'cinematic' as Leone or Kubrick at their most operatic.

TS: Crowther's condescension vs Truffaut's racism ("I don't want to see a movie of peasants eating with their hands.")

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Friday, 4 July 2014 10:17 (five years ago) link

Another thread prompted by some of this: Did Bosley Crowther Ever Like Anything?

Riot In #9 Dream (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 4 July 2014 10:23 (five years ago) link

That Truffaut quote is astounding, yes. Not to mention that (to me, anyway) the influence of Pather Panchali on The 400 Blows is obvious--in a general sense, and also in some specifics, like how Ray's travelling players becomes Truffaut's puppet show (which I had previously thought was based on Eisenstaedt's photo, but now learn that the photo came afterward).

My feelings on Crowther, the quote notwithstanding, are generally positive, believe it not. His The Great Films was the first film book I ever looked at--there was a copy in my middle-school library that I used to thumb through endlessly. (The most bizarre inclusion was the then-most recent: Ulysses.) Here's his list:

I think there was a companion volume, too.

clemenza, Friday, 4 July 2014 12:47 (five years ago) link

Just noticed: the trilogy is in Crowther's Great Films! Evidently he had a change of heart. (He famously recanted on the Bonnie and Clyde pan, too.)

I think Aparajito and The World of Apu lose a bit when seen on their own, as opposed to the time I saw all three in one seven-hour sitting. But there are passages in both I love: the world of books opening up to Apu in the first ("Africa! Africa!"), the ending and the sequence below in the second.

I'd rank Aparajito as the (comparatively speaking, I mean) least necessary of the three, with The World of Apu in the middle. I just read the Wikipedia page for The World of Apu, and it says Taxi Driver is one of the films it influenced. If I put my mind to it, I'm sure I can figure that there a specific shot or sequence where that's evident?

clemenza, Sunday, 6 July 2014 01:08 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

someone be a sport and buy me the Eclipse series Late Ray

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 31 August 2014 00:56 (five years ago) link

btw someone cited an early bit of Crowther underdog-championing in his early days before a screening recently, but i can't recall the specifics.

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 31 August 2014 01:54 (five years ago) link

By coincidence I caught a reissue of Charulata at the BFI earlier today. 'Saw' it on fkn youtube and so it was good in a proper setting...

The B&W looks crisp, first time I really got the feel for the way Ray frames and sets action as his camera moves around showing a house that has everything and yet there is no love. I loved the five plus dialogue-less minutes, full of emptiness and claustrophobia - transmits the full alienation suffered by Charu.

Except it isn't suffering or alienation in the way some of us know. I wonder if Fassbinder has ever seen this - he would've had a field day; Ray is sensitive to work in a restraint, not quite Victorian style or even David Lean (Brief Encounter would be an interesting dbl bill) post-war stiffness and yet to work in a Bengali like nationalism when the Brit-loving Patriarch feverishly tries to get his younger brother (Amal) to marry into a family that will allow him the chance to practice in London, away from his Bengal. Later Charu and Amal are like the kids listening as the big boys have a political get together - but as they listen to the music coming from the party - strengthening their bonds - its almost as if they know the personal is more important because the British have this land, it is useless to be a moderate complainer.

Great symmetry - at the beginning the man wants to explain politics to his wife, like a father to a child; by the end he is broken, led back by Charu as a mother holds the hand of a boy to take him away after a playground accident.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 31 August 2014 20:34 (five years ago) link

Watched Music Room very recently - the use of music in both this and Pather Panchali is amazing

Looking back and another thing is the way he uses music to build the affection between Charu and Amal. The script is especially well developed here: Charu and Amal start by singing, talking about novels, their aspirations to write to build common interests with perfectly pitched dashes of humour.

Ray also shows the flipside: how music is used as decoration to a (sorta ghastly, but that judgment comes from me more than Ray) party full of the boring political types. It is a very beautiful piece, and Ray does a recycling job on music's power by having it leak to the room - as mentioned not v clearly in my previous post - where Amul and Charu sit silently listening.

(Ray is quite shrewd in not making Charu appear as a kind of politician's wife; the husband doesn't ever mistreat her or cynically uses her, he just doesn't understand her needs, which means his heartbreak is very on point by the end)

Charulata is a unique achievement in the way love is played out - no one actually does anything and it doesn't stop it being any less devastating, for both the characters and the (or this) viewer. The sensitivity seems unique, of a time and place.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 1 September 2014 08:33 (five years ago) link

Ray has been my most-conspicuous blind spot for some time now ...

Of all things, it's John Simon's overweening distaste for his films that finally convinced me I have to see them.

Only saw Charulata once and barely remember it, but the review by xyzzzz__ seems spot on. Need to see again.

Where is the love for Days and Nights in the Forest?

The Wu-Tang Declan (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 1 September 2014 22:32 (five years ago) link

It took a while to sort out the male leads, especially when the women are more fascinating (which Ray acknowledges with the deftest and subtlest of camera placements).

The memory game scene and its consequences -- very good.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 1 September 2014 22:33 (five years ago) link

Fair enough.

The Wu-Tang Declan (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 1 September 2014 22:44 (five years ago) link

John Simon's overweening distaste for his films that finally convinced me I have to see them

Don't know who he is (yes google dot com etc) but it is curious how much hostility Ray drew. Seem to remembr Oliver Stone saying something nasty (but someone like Stone I suspect wouldn't like his films anyway). He didn't seem to have an aggressive bone in his body and his more poltical fare is so humanistic leaning and subtle (I suppose not having an aggressive bone can annoy too). I don't know if he has ever said a bad word about anyone and always encouraged his fellow Bengali filmmakers.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 2 September 2014 13:26 (five years ago) link

six months pass...

Apu Trilogy digitally restored; theatrical showings by Janus in spring/summer

the increasing costive borborygmi (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 25 March 2015 21:23 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

Looking forward to making Satyajit Ray no longer the highest-profile great director I've not yet seen a film by.

Norse Jung (Eric H.), Friday, 8 May 2015 16:30 (five years ago) link

three weeks pass...

as J.Ro points out, the third Apu film is easily the weakest.

(still good)

the increasing costive borborygmi (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 31 May 2015 08:14 (five years ago) link

No way, second one is the weakest

So much death in these films!

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Monday, 1 June 2015 13:34 (five years ago) link

I loved 2nd one the most but its all relative.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 1 June 2015 13:35 (five years ago) link

I love the third best but it's been twenty years.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 1 June 2015 13:37 (five years ago) link

Yeah, all relative, and a case cld be made for any of them as 'the best'. FWIW, the first and third made the Sight & Sound Top 250, second one did not.

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Monday, 1 June 2015 13:43 (five years ago) link

Aparajito is my favorite as well

tbf the death thing got a little old, was expecting Apu's son to be struck by lightning in last scene

the increasing costive borborygmi (Dr Morbius), Monday, 1 June 2015 14:16 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

Woo – the trilogy will show at one of our art houses tonight through next Thursday.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 10 July 2015 14:51 (four years ago) link

Ditto. No idea if I can clear an evening, but I do have the screener links.

Norse Jung (Eric H.), Friday, 10 July 2015 14:52 (four years ago) link

That's great...Consecutive screenings, six or seven hours straight, is even better, but I just got lucky. Seeing them in any kind of close proximity adds to all of them, I think.

clemenza, Friday, 10 July 2015 14:57 (four years ago) link

Aparijito my favorite at the moment.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 10 July 2015 15:09 (four years ago) link

if you don't have time to see them in a theater -- and you do -- might as well wait for the CCs.

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Friday, 10 July 2015 15:23 (four years ago) link

Gonna (re)watch tonight in a theater actually.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 10 July 2015 15:23 (four years ago) link

The screener links are via CC. No watermarks or anything.

Norse Jung (Eric H.), Friday, 10 July 2015 15:27 (four years ago) link

Watched The Elephant God the other day - doubt if it's anyone idea of peak Ray but it has a kinda nice 70s-Disney-live-action vibe and some great location material in Varanasi, including a scene at the awesome Jantar Mantar observatory.

bentelec, Friday, 10 July 2015 22:48 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

Robin Wood’s appreciation of director Satyajit Ray’s most famous work, the Apu Trilogy, has been long out of print. Wood’s groundbreaking study, first published in 1972 in the UK, was one of the first serious critical readings of the Apu Trilogy. It is almost impossible to find a copy of Wood’s book today or overstate its worth. More baffling is the fact it has never been reprinted since 1972. Robin Wood has always been one of my favourite film writers and the Apu Trilogy features some of his sharpest writing. Since 1972 the Apu Trilogy has been written about in many different ways. A rich critical discourse has appeared around Ray’s most popular films. Robin Wood like Marie Seton and Andrew Robinson were some of the first writers to bring the work of Ray to the attention of film academia: ‘Ray has himself stated unequivocally that the best critical writings on his films have appeared in the West’ (p. 8). I’ve read a lot of books and articles on Ray, and have also published some writings on Ray. Having finally read Wood’s book I feel somewhat horrified that I have written about Ray without using Wood’s work as a point of reference. Wood’s analysis of The Apu trilogy is still one of the best, if not the most profound I have come across. There is no doubt that Wood’s study is a key and definitive text on not just the Apu Trilogy but also on director Satyajit Ray.

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 18 August 2015 15:47 (four years ago) link

Quick search of Abe Books in the UK finds ten copies for sale, so the writer overstates the book's rarity - tho I bet it's a goodun, love that Movie Paperback series

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Tuesday, 18 August 2015 16:00 (four years ago) link

three weeks pass...

That was good. I only know her from Apur Sansar. I didn't know she was such a huge Bollywood star.

jmm, Sunday, 13 September 2015 14:33 (four years ago) link

six months pass...

So I am in the middle of Ray binge, I might just go with the ten that are on Criterion, good idea/bad idea? Already saw The Music Room and Charulata, enjoyed the former, loved the later.

Van Horn Street, Saturday, 19 March 2016 04:52 (four years ago) link

four months pass...

Charulata might be best ever Ray: a Renoir-esque feel for trees, silence, and interior spaces. Teared up a couple times.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 1 August 2016 22:25 (three years ago) link

I saw Charulata again at the BFI a couple of months ago. V painful film.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 1 August 2016 22:30 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

recently saw The Music Room and The Big City, really liked them both. Charulata is next on my list

Dan S, Wednesday, 10 April 2019 04:27 (one year ago) link

The Big CIty seemed way more polished than anything that came before

Dan S, Wednesday, 10 April 2019 04:44 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Pather Panchali and Devi are on TCM tonight. Whether I watch the second is up to the Raptors.

clemenza, Saturday, 25 May 2019 22:09 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Anyone seen The Hero, recently released by Criterion? Clearly a Ray response to 8-1/2 in 1966, with a movie star feeling retrospective on a train journey. I liked the two central performances but felt I was missing something.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 10 September 2019 15:24 (eight months ago) link

I had the same response; it struck me as an uncharacteristic experiment in modishness.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 10 September 2019 15:26 (eight months ago) link

four months pass...

For the last few years, I’ve been checking periodically for Expo ‘67 postcards being sold online. First I want to find a checklist of the complete set, though, so a couple of weeks ago, I e-mailed the Montreal tourism board to see if they could help. (They did, a little.) After I sent the e-mail off, I started thinking that it was just the kind of bizarre thing you could spend all your time in retirement doing. (Kind of like when my dad called me up one night 30 years ago to see if I knew the address where you write to become a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Hang on, dad, I’ve got it right here with me.) Which in turn reminded of Moses Herzog madly scribbling off letters in Saul Bellow’s novel, which I started and abandoned back in university. I’m currently giving it another go...lots of needless background to this passage:

Recently I saw Pather Panchali. I assume you know it since the subject is rural India. Two things affected me greatly - the old crone scooping the mush with her fingers and later going into the weeds to die; and the death of the young girl in the rains...It was raining also in New York, as in rural India. His heart was aching. He too had a daughter, and his mother too had been a poor woman.

clemenza, Monday, 20 January 2020 00:20 (four months ago) link

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