Dear Shaded Viewers,
It is with great pleasure that I announce that as of March 1st, Carlotta films will release a box set of Satyajit Ray films. The six films in the box set capture what is unique in the Indian experience and that which is universal. The box set includes : Le Grande Ville (1963), Charulata (1964), La Lache (1965), Le Saint (1965), Le Heros (1966) and Le Dieu Éléphant (1979). When Satyajit Ray received an Honorary Oscar in 1992 he said that he learned everything about cinema through watching American films.
There is a central theme in most of his films of the conflict between the old and the new. In Charulata this element is expressed in what happens with the individual when he is adjusting to a society that is changing when his own feelings are against the change. The woman is the central character in the conflict. In Big City there is the conservative middle-aged family and their son working in a bank. For economic reasons, the wife must go out to work and by doing so she meets with resistance from the in-laws. When she ends up earning more than her husband another conflict erupts. Certain forces complicate her need to work, and she is happy and a success but that leads to complications on the domestic side. On the one hand she is moving with the times, but the other side is that she must acknowledge what goes along with it and in the end quits her job. If that is for better or worse, it remains for the viewer to surmise.
In La Lache (The Coward) A screenwriter finds himself reunited with his former lover who is now married. His car breaks down near her home and her husband proposes him a place to sleep. He is then confronted with his now married lover, and he is overrun with memories and feelings from the past and one of his greatest regrets. In The Hero a celebrity is on the brink of his first failure. The film is a meditation on art, fame, and regret using flashbacks and surreal dream sequences. The Elephant God is a detective story about the loss of a priceless statue and an entertaining mystery in the holy city of Varanasi and deals with human character traits and of course greed. In The Saint a rich widow and his daughter become victim of an impostor who passes himself off as a sadhu.
Satyajit Ray built his films on themes that affected him. He was concerned with visible reality through one’s senses. When asked why he makes films he said: “I make films for the love of it. I write my own scenarios and my own dialogue; I select my own actors sometimes from professionals and sometimes from the street.” What he does is masterfully shape conflicting elements into a work of art.
Akira Kurosawa said, “Not to have seen the cinema of Satyajit Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.” With that said…I highly suggest you acquire this wonderful box set.