A to Z of Films Meme (C)

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

– Akira Kurosawa



No points for guessing this one, my dear readers! Ray at his sublime best. The camera speaking more eloquently than the dialogue. Structurally perfect. Emotionally subtle and complex. Vividly chromatic cinema in monochrome. Immaculate art direction. Profound characterization ably supported by sterling performances. A haunting reflection on the nature of human relationships. Ray makes every shot and edit work in the film – there is not a single second of unnecessary footage, every scene from the beginning to the end, is just perfect.

For those who haven’t already, do read my earlier post Light Rays on Charulata.

Runner Up

The Color Purple

The Color PurpleA Bengali housewife in 1897 enraptures me – a 30-something male of more than a century later – in Charulata. A young black girl growing up in the early 1900s in America endears me in The Color Purple, Spielberg’s masterpiece. This is the power of cinema, of film-making at its best.

We meet Celie when she is 14 and pregnant by her father. We live her life along with her for the next 30 years, despairing at her misfortune, and exulting at her triumph. This is Whoopi Goldberg in her first and finest performance, before being closeted by Hollywood into stereotypical roles. Danny Glover is terrific in portraying the physical brutality and outward strength masquerading as masculinity while betraying a weakness of character and inner strength. Oprah Winfrey, a first-timer like Goldberg, is superb as the indomitable black woman who will not bow down to males or whites. The evocative Sister song! This is not a tale of a woman’s suffering, but of her enduring struggle and ultimate victory. The movie is not without flaws, but the story and performances are uniquely heart-rending.

When I first saw the film on the big screen in the mid-80s, I was young and impressionable. I cried and cried and wept in joy. When seeing it a few years ago, I did not break down emotionally, but was equally moved.

Noteworthy Mentions

Citizen Kane, the legendary Welles masterpiece, that I’m still learning to appreciate

Casablanca, the legendary, most-cited, most-beloved film of all time

A Clockwork Orange, cited by some as a great film-making, but did not go down well with me at all. I felt like having been food-poisoned after watching the film. Not recommended by me.


22 thoughts on “A to Z of Films Meme (C)

  1. Mahendra

    Much as I have seen other Satyajit Ray work, I have not seen Charulata. I remember your last post on the film and thought that would be your C film 🙂

    Nor have I seen The Colour Purple but I am glad to see there are other sensible people who cry in the cinema. I don’t always do but sometimes I do.

    Would Chariots of Fire have made it to your list if you were doing a top-10? 🙂

  2. Charulata is one of Ray’s films not influenced by Italian neo-realism, so no poverty here. 🙂

    There are some films at which if people do not become emotional (I do not mean actually cry), they’re either insensible or insensitive. 🙂 Color Purple is one such film. As I mentioned, in the first viewing in the mid-80s, I cried profusely.

    I haven’t seen Chariots of Fire. Have heard of it couple of times, but never saw it. Now it’s on my list!

  3. I agree. But many are also able to keep a lid on their emotion well in public. 🙂

    Chariots of Fire is shot, in part, in Gonville & Caius in Cambridge. It is a good film, and I like it enough to own it on DVD.

  4. You have earned my deepest respects for making “The Color Purple” your runner up.

    I added Charulata to my netflix queue after your last post, but I go through movies so slowly that I still haven’t seen it yet. School doesn’t leave much time for pleasures, I’m afraid. But when I do see it, I’ll make sure to write a journal entry and link it to you.

  5. Yes. I don’t like external factors to curb my emotional response to a film. That’s why sometimes I prefer watching alone. I like to completely surrender myself. 🙂

    I will look out for Chariots of Fire. Thanks again.

  6. Havah Negila, thank you very much. Finally, I find someone who admires The Color Purple as much as I do.

    Take your time watching Charulata. Maybe this review by a newcomer to Ray will help.

  7. So it turns out I have already seen a movie by this director and loved it (Mahanagar). I have a great feeling about Charulata, and thanks for the link, the review was very well written and anyone who mentions code-switching gets brownie points in my book.

    p.s. added you on lj. U should be able to see my entries now.

  8. Read the book Colour Purple while I was in college, yet to see the movie, yesterday though I watched two I liked, one is called Transamerica about a man that goes thru transformation to become a woman and how he/she copes with the family and his biological son. the other is called Mother . Watching AI and Amistad now. Both by the same director. Amistad would probably be one of your favs too?

  9. I must see Color Purple now! Charulata is a film that stays with you long after you have seen it! Must watch it again now. I am enjoying this series so much!

  10. Haven’t read the book Color Purple – I hear it is darker than the film!

    Nope – haven’t seen Transamerica or Mother, or Amistad either. Am I getting a lot of recommendations…wow!

  11. Wow, you’re on a roll! Will look up The Color Purple. Yes, had put my bets on all of the rest, Citizen Kane, Charulata & Casablanca 🙂 And yay on Clockwork Orange too; it’s generally one of the mentionables, wasn’t sure if you would.

    I think for me personally, the timing of seeing Clockwork Orange was critical. I saw it 4 years ago, and I echo your sentiment. But I remember thinking at that time, had I seen it when I was immersed into literary criticism / film appreciation, I’d have seen it from a different perspective. Not necessarily liked it, but seen it differently nevertheless.


  12. Your posts tell me I still have to watch some movies. Haven’t yet seen “12 Angry Men” or “The Color Purple”. Or “Schindler’s List” (the previous two reminded me of it, not that it’s on your list.).

  13. I think you will like Color Purple. And yes, sometimes I do get tempted to promote lesser-known films as well, in this meme exercise. What’s the point of re-hashing the “Top 10” films lists that proliferate like swine flu? 🙂

    I share your view regarding Clockwork Orange. I might have seen it differently too, when I was more involved in film appreciation. But I am sure I would not have liked it. Food poison is poison, whether you’re young or old. 😀

  14. Dear litterateuse, I know you’ve been having late nights lately, so very much appreciate your taking the time to comment and recommend films as well.

    Haven’t seen Karakter – the Foreign Oscar winner for 1997. Thank you.

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