Excerpts from Ray's book


Being a great fan of Satyajit Ray, I had a chance to buy and read two of his fantastic books, which ofcourse is a collection of essays by the giant. "Our Films , Their Films" and "Speaking of Films". These books contain Ray's works ranging from 1940's to 1980's. Below are the excerpts from the books.

Excerpts from Satyajit Ray’s “Our Films, Their Films”

About Kubrick, when he met him (1962)

Ray met Kubrick even before his best films "Dr.Strangelove","2001:Space Odyssey”, “A Clockwork orange" were filmed. "They had built part of a town for a Western.”One-Eyed Jacks" , it was to be called. Marlon Brando was to play the lead and Stanley Kubrick was to direct.......Later that day, I met Stanley Kubrick. On the Strength of his "Paths of Glory", Kubrick seemed to me to be one of the white hopes of the American Cinema, he had first rate technique, he had style and I had a feeling he had also something to say."

Styles in new wave:

Renoir revealed this attitude in “La Regle du Jeu” , so did Welles in Citizen kane, so does Godard in film after film. It is necessary to point out that the new wave was marked as much by a new syntax by a new philosophy.

Orson Welles (Director of "Citizen Kane")

Twenty years ago in Hollywood, a young man named Orson Welles had a couple of bold findings at unconventional film making, In this he was only trying to do what had already been done in the other arts. Painting and music had been freed from bondage of perspective and tonality. Welles gave expression to an urge that was essentially contemporary.

On Billy Wilder

Of all the directors I met in Hollywood, Billy Wilder seemed the most volatile, and the most optimistic. Most of the other directors I met had spoken of worries....The first thing he said to me was: "You won a prize at Cannes?" Well, I guess you are an Artist. But I'm not. I’m just a commercial man, and I like it that way”. I mumbled a word of protest and said I thought he was rather good at mixing art and commerce, and that two of his own films had won prizes at festivals in the past. But Wilder would have none of it. He just smiled and said;"Watch Lemmon do this scene. He’s great'- and walked off.

Francois Truffaut and Jean -Luc Godard

Truffaut's beautiful The 400 Blows has passages of Truffaut’s originality. The one through going iconoclast in the group although was Jean -Luc Godard .As an innovator , one has to put him not far below D.W.Griffith, and any analysis of the NEW WAVE unorthodox must in end boil down to the analysis of methods of Jean Luc Godard.

From "Speaking of Films" by Satyajit Ray

This book provides a complete insight of the cinema history and the making of his own films. This unlike "Our films, their films" which covered upon his thoughts about films and directors, solely rests on his views on how the film industry and his films have grown and what can be done to make the filmdom much more artistic. He also pours down his thoughts on one of his critics, which I found perfect.

"The first film I saw in London was De Sica's Bicycle Thieves. I came out of the theatre my mind fully made up. I would become a film-maker"

"Even today, there are debates over whether or not cinema can be called a form of art. Those who are not prepared to give it the status claim that cinema has no soul of its own. it is a weird mixture of components taken from literature and other forms of art"

"Naturally our films appeared lackluster in comparison, and it seemed that we still had a great deal to learn"

"Our country has always lacked stories well suited to cinema, as well as good scriptwriters. However, what we lack most today are directors who are familiar with every aspect of film-making and who possess a strong sense of responsibility. I don't know how such a void can be filled - yet if it isn’t, we are in serious trouble"

"A critic earns the right to analyze the merits and demerits of a film only when he has true understanding of the art. He must know and be able to judge every aspect of film-making, from writing the scenario to editing. In my view, a critic performs a useful purpose only when he is able to build a bridge between the director and the audience. That is his main responsibility."

"I opened the October issue of the parichay and discovered that Mr Rudra, is after me again. The problem is that cinema has become and art for all and sundry. Normally, only those who appreciate- or try to appreciate- excellence in paintings, books and music would feel the urge t visit exhibitions of good paintings, read good books or go to reputed live concerts. But in the case of cinema, I often find that anyone who has seen "Sangam" will also peer into "La Dolce Vita". There is nothing, of course, that one can do about it..But if every Tom, Dick and Harry starts to reveal his little and therefore dangerous knowledge, a question rises quite naturally will it not create confusion in the minds....and unable to distinguish between good and bad films?"

And there is so much, so good..This is a must read....


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