Wednesdays

Satyajit Ray: A Retrospective

Programmed by John Litweiler

"Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon." --Akira Kurosawa

Ever so gracefully, without shock or melodrama or glamour, Satyajit Ray's films absorb the viewer. We're in India, a young nation in the midst of vast changes, where gnawing poverty, the grand edifices of vanished colonialism, modern ambition, and social upheaval co-exist. Ray lets us feel the struggles of his people--rural children, impoverished newcomers in the cruel city, decadent aristocrats, women's traditional vs. modern roles, a lonely rich wife, youth struggling toward maturity and responsibility, an endless parade of people from every stratum of society. They're mean people and good people, their joys and sorrows are simple and complex, and Ray conveys their subtle emotions with clear-eyed loving insight. He's unsentimental, with a keen eye for nuances, for small details that reveal people's characters. Humor and tragedy arise naturally from his people's lives. A lyric realism is his mode, a very deep and rich humanity is his revelation. Ray's films are distinguished by rare directness, simplicity, and economy of technique. There's an almost poetic quality about them--they're beautiful to see--and a kind of magic about the way they work. Satyajit Ray (1921-1992), the inventor of Indian realism, began as a novice in 1950 and wrote, directed, and composed the music for feature films, shorts, documentaries, and TV films for the rest of his life.



4/3/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

Pather Panchali

(Satyajit Ray, 1955) · In a remote village on the Bengal plain, a boy Apu and his sister Durga discover and delight in the world around them as their parents struggle to care for them and their elderly aunt. Their father, a priest, leaves the village in search of work to provide for his family. Gently, the family's love and joys and sorrows, including a quiet tragic death, become compelling. Ray's classic first film features inspired cinematography by Subrata Mitra and a soundtrack by a young Ravi Shankar. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project through a collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, the Merchant-Ivory Foundation and the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 125m format: Archival 35mm

 

4/10/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

Aparajito

(Satyajit Ray, 1956) · Apu grows from a ten-year-old boy into a teenager, first in the holy city of Benares, then with his mother back in the countryside, and as a hard-working student in Calcutta who also works nights at a printing press. The story is framed by death as Apu feels the powerful, conflicting pulls of love and responsibility, and tries to chose wisely. Again filmed by Mitra and with Shankar's music, Aparajito won the Golden Lion at the 1957 Venice Film Festival. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project through a collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, the Merchant-Ivory Foundation and the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 113m format: Archival 35mm

 

4/17/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

The World of Apu

(Satyajit Ray, 1959) ·

Q: What can you do to help if the bride-to-be discovers her fiancé is crazy?

A: Marry her yourself instead. In this third film of Ray's Apu Trilogy, Apu is now a poor but hopeful young big-city man whose odd, arranged marriage grows into genuine love. Again, ever so subtly, Ray then reveals Apu's shock and utter despair at his young wife's death, his initial rejection of his son, and how Apu grows into maturity. Crafted with Mitra's perfect camera and Shankar's music. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project through a collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, the Merchant-Ivory Foundation and the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 106m format: Archival 35mm

 

4/24/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

CANCELLED: Devi

(Satyajit Ray, 1960) · Traditional beliefs collide with modern India when Roy, a wealthy rural patriarch, dreams that Doyamoyee, his daughter-in-law, is the reincarnation of the goddess Devi and demands that she be worshipped. After she's credited with a miracle cure of a dying child, so many others flock to her for cures that she begins to believe it too. Her husband tries desperately to talk them both out of their mad delusion before tragedy happens. With music by Ali Akbar Khan. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project through a collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, the Merchant-Ivory Foundation and the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 93m format: Archival 35mm

 

5/1/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

The Big City

(Satyajit Ray, 1963) · India is a young nation in the mid-1950s and its people's lives are also changing drastically. Young wife Arati, played by Madhabi Mukherjee, leaves the emotional comfort of home, overcomes her shyness and her in-laws' opposition, and takes a job. Meeting people from many levels of society, she delights in her new life; in time she becomes the family's sole supporter. But a new conflict emerges for Arati when her racist boss fires her best friend. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project through a collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, the Merchant-Ivory Foundation and the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 131m format: Imported 35mm

 

5/8/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

Charulata

(Satyajit Ray, 1964) · The unforgettable Madhabi Mukherjee is neglected, bored wife Charu, whose brilliance and creativity blossom when her overworked husband brings his cousin Amal to live with them. Charu and Amal, a writer, converse daily, passionately, about art, literature, life, inspiring her growing love. This sunlit story of Victorian India, based on a tale by Rabindranath Tagore, is beautifully filmed and rich with nuances. It's Ray's favorite among his own films.

runtime: 117m format: 35mm

 

5/15/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

Days and Nights in the Forest

(Satyajit Ray, 1970) · Four young city slickers go for a spree in the country, which leads to hilarious culture clashes with the rural people. But as they get to know the local ladies and their families, the yuppies' holiday turns into serious, life-changing adventures in friendship, love, and self-discovery. This brooding character study dissects the competitiveness inherent in social relations--and lays bare the essential pettiness of the bourgeois concerns and reputational insecurities that beset its characters. One of Ray's most unjustly neglected films--unavailable on DVD.

runtime: 115m format: DCP

 

5/22/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

The Adversary

(Satyajit Ray, 1970) · Amidst the violent turmoil of late 1960s Bengal, Siddhartha looks for work in Calcutta. His sister and revolutionist brother reject his indecisiveness; the hippies, communists, and businessmen he encounters add to his confusion. Amid dreams and flashbacks, only his affection for an innocent young woman provides some stability to his life. This is the first film of Ray's Calcutta Trilogy, which explores how the physical and moral decay of the great city affect sensitive young people.

runtime: 110m format: DCP

 

5/29/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

Company Limited

(Satyajit Ray, 1971) · The second film of Ray's Calcutta Trilogy is a compelling psychological study of a man's slow corruption. Tutul, the film's conscience, idolizes her brother-in-law Shyamal, who shows her the glittering high life of the big city when she visits. He's an ambitious executive at a fan factory who concocts an elaborate scheme to disguise a problem with a shipment. But triumph in the rat race can end Tutul's respect, as well as his self-respect. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project at the Academy Film Archive with funding from the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 110m format: Archival 35mm

 

5/6/2019 @ 7:00 PM 9:30 PM

The Middleman

(Satyajit Ray, 1975) ·

"The only bleak film I have made is The Middleman.... I felt corruption, rampant corruption, all around." -Satyajit Ray.

In the third film of the Calcutta trilogy, the city is crumbling, its young people are unemployed, its politics are turning violent. There Somnath struggles for work as a "middleman," a broker who arranges deals between producers and customers. Ray harshly satirizes the business world while he sympathizes with Somnath's naivete and idealism. Restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project through a collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, the Merchant-Ivory Foundation and the Film Foundation. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

runtime: 131m format: Archival 35mm

 

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