‘Afraid of Watching Satyajit Ray Films’
I must admit that there are a few films I was dreading watching in these 52-weeks more than going head-to-head with Godard (which I’ve now done) and Fellini (which I have yet to do). But amongst those few films were the three Indian films by Satyajit Ray.
It’s a culture I know little about other than through commercial films. All I know is that the poverty outweighs everyone who has money by 100 to 1 or 1000 to 1 or 1 million to 1 or 1 billion to 1. I’m a person who has no understanding of what poverty is like on a daily-basis, a yearly-basis or a lifetime-basis.
My context for understanding India is how I (through my Western-eyes) see Russia between 0000-1980. Or China.
This film was the experience I didn’t want to have. As bad as life is in my world or the world of the Western countries, I didn’t want to have Indian conditions and realities made really real-to-me.
I don’t even know when Pather Panchali is set. They have umbrellas. So, it has got to be in my generation and yet they are so impoverished it is beyond my comprehension.
There’s a point in time where you can’t borrow any more ‘things’ from your neighbours and as you have no income, you’ll slowly starve and die-off. But, also, in the countries which surround India it is similarly starvation by a thousand paper cuts.
This was brilliant. A winner for Day 262. I’m looking forward to the second film.
‘PATHER PANCHALI’ 1955
This is an exceptional film. However high the bar is, this film leaps over it. There’s a reality – like I’ve described with other films – where the camera and the director and the crew behind the camera are invisible.
Like Mad Max or Transformers or Avengers or DC Comics, obviously, there’s a thousand artists creating the unbelievable images/things behind the plot in these films.
I’m certain there’s hardly any crew behind this first film about Apu that is able to vote and give the false reality, the feeling, of a true reality.
And it smacked me between the eyes and rendered me groggy.
Pather Panchali is important because it shows a state of life, or being, that is unknown and hasn’t been experienced by anyone associated with the film.
It is a film and however credible they are it is still a work of fiction and not a documentary.
Despite these facts, it is so convincing that I think/believe it is more documentary than mere film.