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Retro Cinema – Late Ray (DVD)

Retro Cinema – Late Ray (DVD)
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This collection presents the DVD debuts of three features that were created during the later years of Satyajit Ray’s brilliant career.

Most notable in this trio is the 1984 The Home and the World, a profoundly moving adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s novel on a sheltered woman’s intellectual liberation. While the film covers themes similar to Ray’s earlier classic Charulata (also based on a Tagore novel), it offers a subtle yet disturbing meditation on the consequences that can result when one wades into dangerous emotional territory.

Sadly, subtlety is in short supply with Ray’s 1989 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. Shifting the story to 1980s Bengal, with a Hindu temple as the new source of the contaminated water supply, Ray’s work is unusually stiff and wooden, and the sense of urgency in Ibsen’s work is never tapped here.

Ray recovers with his final film, the 1991 The Stranger, an endlessly entertaining light drama in which a middle-class family finds itself in a complex guessing game on the identity of a visitor claiming to be a long-lost relative.

While this collection from The Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series offers no special features, it nonetheless helps to make more of Ray’s elusive titles available for American audiences. And even though An Enemy of the People is one of Ray’s lesser works, this collection as a whole is highly recommended for fans of the great Indian filmmaker.

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Phil Hall Phil Hall has enjoyed a three-decade career in the film industry as a journalist, critic, publicist, distributor, festival programmer and actor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Wired, American Movie Classics Magazine and Film Threat. He is the author of seven books, including "The History of Independent Cinema," "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time" and "In Search of Lost Films."

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