If you only know Satyajit Ray from the handful of movies that have emerged on disc in the West, you're going to love TIFF Cinematheque's new retrospective.
The Sun And The Moon: The Films Of Satyajit Ray is as comprehensive as it gets, offering many of Ray's films in restorations laboriously produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Michael Pogorzelski, director of the Academy film archive, will be in town to introduce a new restoration of The Chess Players on July 18.
The series kicks off this week with the complete Apu Trilogy, likely the best-known of Ray's films to Western audiences. With Pather Panchali (Thursday, July 3), Aparajito (Friday, July 4) and The World Of Apu (Saturday, July 5), Ray brought a popular serial novel to the screen and captured its life force. The resulting films, released about three years apart, take us through almost a quarter-century in the lives of the increasingly conflicted young hero and his family.
Devi (July 13), his 1960 drama about a young woman (Sharmila Tagore) who comes to believe she's the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali, plays like a Merchant Ivory chamber drama infused with magic realism. And in An Enemy Of The People (August 10) - which appears on Criterion's Late Ray boxed set - Ray unlocks new metaphors in Henrik Ibsen's play about a doctor attempting to convince a small village that their religious shrine is a source of plague.
It's the obscurities that interest me most. I'd heard of Distant Thunder (August 9), Ray's 1973 drama about the famine that killed millions of Bengalis during the Second World War, but never thought I'd see it. TIFF is screening a 16mm print, which gives you some idea how hard it must have been to source. And then there's The Adventures Of Goopy And Bagha (August 17), described by TIFF as a musical-comedy-fantasy, which was Ray's biggest domestic hit.
It doesn't seem like these movies could have been made by the same filmmaker, let alone the one who made The World Of Apu. But, of course, that's the point.