Satyajit Ray

The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1957, 1959).  How Criterion has not released this as a box set yet is beyond me.

The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1957, 1959). How Criterion has not released this as a box set yet is beyond me.

  • Born:  1921
  • Died:  1992
  • Rank:  80
  • Score:  524.90
  • Feature Films:  31
  • Best:  The World of Apu
  • Worst:  N/A  (only seen 7 of the 31 films)

Top 5 Films (that I have seen):

  1. The World of Apu – 1959
  2. Pather Panchali – 1955
  3. Aparajito – 1957
  4. The Chess Players – 1977
  5. The Music Room – 1958

Top 10 Director Finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1958 – 6th – Pather Panchali
  • 1960 – 8th – The World of Apu
  • 1978 – 6th – The Chess Players

Satyajit Ray is the most woefully incomplete director on this list.  I didn’t see any of his films until 2005, even though I knew I should and until last year had only seen The Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu).  Granted, The Apu Trilogy alone is enough to place a director onto a list like this, but I am trying to get further into his films.  What is evident in Ray’s films is the humanity and the kind of life that existed in India for decades and still exists today.  There would be no Darjeeling Limited or Slumdog Millionaire had it not been for Ray’s films.  It is his vision of India that any film about India must compete with.

The Chess Players – #8 film of 1978

Among my many visions of novels was one in which every chapter would be headed by a chess move, with an eventual conclusion and the characters in the novel would correspond to the moves.  But, in a sense, this had already been done by Ray when I was still a kid.

One of the things that hangs over an Indian of a certain age is the memory of the Raj, what it was like to live in a British colony, even after World War II.  This vision of the Raj, of the way the British acted towards the natives of the continent set against two old men who continue to play chess through all the troubles is a fascinating portrait of a country that never really had a chance to be a country until modern times.  It’s the second most populous country in the world, with 1/8 of the world’s population, yet how many people in the west knew anything about India before Slumdog?  Ray’s films are a good place to start.  But that’s only a start.

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