Today we open Long Shadows: The Late Work of Satyajit Ray, which continues until April 26. Although Ray is considered one of the great world auteurs, his films are very difficult to find in the US. So we asked some friends of the Film Society: what film would you recommend seeing, and why? Opinions vary on the one “must-see” film and there seems to be a general lack of familiarity with his later work, even among those who are admirers of his career - which makes us even more interested in seeing how audiences will respond to this series.
David Hudson at MUBI expressed the thoughts of many: “I knew immediately that I was unqualified to comment on late Ray, so I asked around at MUBI, and all of us feel the same way: This is what makes this upcoming series so fascinating. These films are obviously important, and yet none of us in our immediate circle have seen them.”
Screenwriter Larry Gross admitted there are “huge gaps” in his knowledge of Ray’s later work, though he was able to offer us some insight: “I have seen two films in this group and they are both very different from each other and both are great -- The Golden Fortress is just a wonderfully entertaining kids detective/adventure movie (I don't know if it was Ray himself or his father who composed a successful series of kids’ detective novels) and Distant Thunder is one of the most original and painful war films I can ever recall seeing. The stress is on hunger and the destruction of ordinary rhythms of life, rather than violence and carnage.”
With the release of The Music Room on DVD, our friends at The Playlist have been discussing Ray’s work lately: “there's been lots of rights issues that are apparently really messy in India, but if the Criterion Collection were ever able to do an Eclipse set, that would probably be a great entry point for cinephiles (…) it's also interesting to note, he's one of the world's few auteurs who also wrote and composed all the music for his films.”
Paul Brunick also has a nice roundup of Distant Thunder reviews at Alt Screen, where it’s his editor’s pick.
If you’ve been lucky enough to see any of Satyajit Ray’s later films, share your thoughts with us in the comments. Don’t forget to check out the Film Society’s latest Ray tribute and let us know what you think.
Pictured above an image from The Chess Players, screening tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.