January 18, 2009

Critics on Ray...

Critics on Ray

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

Adib, Times of India, 1956
"There is nothing glib here. There is nothing patchy. Nothing spills over the edges. Everything is clear and in focus. The images speak and we listen with our eyes."

Robert Steel, Montage Special Issue on Satyajit Ray, 1966
"[When] I did see [Pather Panchali]... I was bowled over. Here was an Indian film that was a film or that matched my concept of a film and a great one at that. It was the first film made in India that I had ever seen which did not embarrass, annoy, or bore me."

Stanley Kauffman, A World on Film, 1958
"To one who has seen Part One, two things are now evident. The film now seems better than it did because the second was made; and the director, Mr. Ray, is in the process of creating a national film epic unlike anything — in size and soul — since the Soviet Maxim trilogy of 1938-40. Further, as a record of a people's life, in its daily travail and its largest aspects, it bears comparison with Flaherty's Nanook and Maona."

Time, 1958
"Pather Panchali is perhaps the finest piece of filmed folklore since Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North. It is a pastoral poem dappled with the play of brilliant images and strong, dark feelings, a luminous revelation of Indian life in language that all the world can understand."

Pauline Kael, I Lost It At The Movies, 1965
"Like Renoir and DeSica, Ray sees that life itself is good no matter how bad it is. It is difficult to discuss art which is an affirmation of life, without fear of becoming maudlin. But is there any other kind of art, on screen or elsewhere? 'In cinema,' Ray says, 'we must select everything for the camera according to the richness of its power to reveal.' Ray is sometimes (for us Westerners, and perhaps for Easterners also?) a little boring, but what major artist outside film and drama isn't? What he has to give us is so rich, so contemplative in approach (and this we are completely unused to in the film medium — except perhaps in documentary), that we begin to accept out lapses of attention during the tedious moments with the same kind of relaxation and confidence and affection that we feel for the boring sketches in the great novels, the epic poems."

Robin Wood,The Apu Trilogy, 1972
"Can we [the Western audience] feel any confidence that we are adequately understanding, intellectually and emotionally, works which are the product of a culture very different from our own?... What is remarkable is how seldom in Ray's films the spectator is pulled up by any specific obstacle arising from cultural differences... Ray is less interested in expressing ideas than in communicating emotional experience."

Chidananda Das Gupta, Talking About Films, 1981
"Neither these more terrible aspects of our society, nor the poetry of anguish generated by the struggle of the 'Ravindriks' to cope with them are reflected in Ray's films. In fact wherever he has taken a tentative step toward them, Ray has tended to burn his fingers. Take Abhijaan for instance; the attempt to enter the underworld of the working class results in total failure. And the reasons for the failure is that it cannot be drawn from the myths and types of the Tagore world."

Nargis Dutt (quoted in Rajadhyaksha Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, 1995)
"[Nargis] mounted a scathing attack on Satyajit Ray's films for 'exporting images of India's poverty," in the Parliament as an M.P. in the 1980s."

Rajadhyaksha Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, 1995
"[Ray's] films mostly seen as relating to the ideological liberalism of Nehru, and... to Ray's artistic and intellectual mentor Rabindranath Tagore."

George Lucas, Producer/Screenwriter,1991
"Satyajit Ray is an extraordinary filmmaker with a long and illustrious career who has had a profound influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world. By honoring Satyajit Ray, the Academy will help bring his work to the attention of a larger public, particularly to young filmakers, on whom his work will certainly have a positive effect."

Elia Kazan, Director, 1991
"I want to add my voice to those of Scorsese and Merchant in asking the Academy grant Satyajit Ray an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award. I have admired his films for many years and for me he is the filmic voice of India, speaking for the people of all classes of the country... He is the most sensitive and eloquent artist and it can truly be said in his case that when we honor him we are honoring ourselves."

James Ivory, Director, 1991
"Satyajit Ray is among the world's greatest directors, living or dead... Isn't it curious that the newest, the most modern of the arts, has found one of its deepest, most fluent expressions in the work of an artist like Ray, who must make his seamless films — many have been masterpieces — in a chaotic and volatile corner of one of the world's oldest cultures, amidst the most stringent shortages of today's advanced movie-making material and equipment?... It would be fitting to honour this great man, who has influenced so many other film makers in all parts of the world, and to salute him with a Lifetime Award in the spring of 1992."

Martin Scorcese, Director, 1991
"We would like to bring to your attention, and to the attention of the distinguished board of directors of the Academy, a master filmmaker, Satyajit Ray... Though somewhat unwell, during the past few years he has completed two additional films, centered around his deeply humanitarian vision. His work is in the company of that of living contemporaries like Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini."

John Schlesinger, Director/Producer/Writer, 1991
"...his extraordinary body of work has not only greatly influenced so many filmmakers, but has profoundly affected their humanitarian attitude. The seeming 'simplicity' of his films is the mark of a truly great master and I would be overjoyed if he were to be honored by the Academy."
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala "Out of his great body of work, my own particular favorite is his film Charulata. Although he was such a superb visual artist, Ray's main inspiration was literary. He always wrote his own scripts (as well as directing them and composing his own original score!) and his greatest films were all adaptations of favorite novels and stories, including Charulata, which was based on a novella by Tagore. It doesn't seem to matter through what medium — novels, plays, films, music — the most potent influences reach us. All great works stimulate a hopeful emulation that ends occasionally, as in the films of Satyajit Ray, in radiant success — ensuring the continuation of this business of influence and inspiration that makes us all try and try and try again."

Suranjan Ganguly, Satyajit Ray, In Search of the Modern 2000
"It is true that the India Ray describes betrays his own bourgeois affiliations, since it caters largely to the interests of his class... [more relevant] is the question of how representative is Ray's India?"

Darius Cooper, The Cinema of Satyajit Ray, Between Tradition and Modernity, 2000
"Beneath the variety of narrative discourses that he develops, Ray is intent in telling us another story. In film after film, he investigates India's social institutions and the power structures to which they give rise, or vice versa. He works out, in concrete terms, the conflicts and issues of his times, both in his own state of Bengal and in the larger Indian nation."

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