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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:46 pm 
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Eclipse Series 40: Late Ray

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The films directed by the great Satyajit Ray in the last ten years of his life have a unique dignity and drama. Three of them are collected here: the fervent Rabindranath Tagore adaptation The Home and the World; the vital Henrik Ibsen–inspired An Enemy of the People; and the filmmaker's final film, the poignant and philosophical family story The Stranger. Each is a complex, political, and humane portrait of a world both corrupt and indescribably beautiful, constructed with Ray's characteristic elegance and imbued with autumnal profundity. These late-career features are the meditative works of a master.

The Home and the World

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Both a romantic triangle tale and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution, The Home and the World, set in early twentieth-century Bengal, concerns an aristocratic but progressive man who, in insisting on broadening his more traditional wife's political horizons, drives her into the arms of his more radical school chum. Satyajit Ray had wanted to adapt Rabindranath Tagore's classic novel to the screen for decades. When he finally did, in 1984, he fashioned a personal, exquisite film that stands as a testament to his lifelong love for the great writer.

An Enemy of the People

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In Satyajit Ray's absorbing contemporary adaptation of a play by Henrik Ibsen, a good-hearted doctor discovers that the serious illness befalling the citizens of his small Bengali town may be due to a contamination of the water at the local temple. His findings are met not with public gratitude but with rancor, along with opposition from local authorities, who are afraid the news will keep visitors away. Stately in style but with a fiery debate at its heart, An Enemy of the People gets at the tension between religion and science in everyday Indian life.

The Stranger

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Satyajit Ray's valedictory film is a multifaceted character study that contains both light humor and melancholy rumination. Written by the filmmaker, The Stranger involves a bourgeois couple who are bemused by the news that a man claiming to be the wife's long-lost uncle will be coming to stay with them after years of travel. Though they fear he's an impostor, they tentatively let the man into their home, commencing an eye-opening emotional journey for the family. A humanist exploration of class, faith, and tradition versus progress, The Stranger is a bittersweet goodbye from one of the world's most important filmmakers.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:15 pm 
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This makes me half-happy. Very good to see these late Ray films finally getting a hard-subs-free and probably much superior release compared to the AE and other versions. But then "The Home and the World" (the Indian release of which looks stunning, and I suppose the Eclipse will too) is a great film and would have easily warranted a release in the main line. And if they do a 'Late Ray' set, I wonder why "The Branches of the Tree" is not included, which would have made this set a 'complete' edition of Ray's very late films.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:41 pm 

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Very excited to have a Ray set, but I'm perhaps even more pleased to learn that the death of Eclipse was greatly exaggerated.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:53 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
And if they do a 'Late Ray' set, I wonder why "The Branches of the Tree" is not included, which would have made this set a 'complete' edition of Ray's very late films.

That does seem a curious omission, as it's those last three films that truly constitute "Late Ray," since they're really qualitatively different from what went before. The Home and the World is the last great film of his 'proper' career, and he was never the same after his heart attack. Still, that's the film that makes this set worth purchasing, so I can understand where Criterion are coming from with its inclusion.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:53 pm 
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I've already got The Home and the World from that Tagore box set that was making the rounds a few months ago- how are the other two movies? I feel like there's a critical view of Ray that says he stopped being any good after he suffered a stroke, but I might be confusing him with someone else...

edit: well I guess that answers that question


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:58 pm 
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For my money, Enemy of the People is the worst film I've ever seen that's directed by an indisputably great filmmaker. Really shockingly bad. The Stranger is better, but not actually good, and I've never seen The Branches of the Tree.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:06 pm 
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zedz wrote:
For my money, Enemy of the People is the worst film I've ever seen that's directed by an indisputably great filmmaker.

I'll never forget declaring Caught for this category and then suffering through Rollover and the Cotton Club in quick succession as if the universe were saying, "There is always a much worse film by a great director out there"


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:16 pm 
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The Cotton Club isn't even FFC's worst film. Just wait for the '90s list to drive a pike in your skull.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:16 pm 
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I must admit I haven't seen any Ray film made after "The Home and the World", so I have to accept the negative view of his very late works for the moment. But this nevertheless reminds me of the criticism that was directed against the three very late Kurosawa films, of which I can understand where the dismissive voices come from, but which I nevertheless cherish for what they are in their own way (especially "Madadayo", which I find extremely touching). So I hope there's something worthy in these last films of Ray, too, even though they may not exactly compare to his masterpieces.

And so it may be understandable if with "The Home and the World" they put one undeniably great film in this set to make it more attractive, but they could have easily made it a four-disc-set to include "The Branches of the Tree", too. I fear we'll never see this from CC, good or bad as ít may be.


Last edited by Tommaso on Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:16 pm 

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zedz wrote:
For my money, Enemy of the People is the worst film I've ever seen that's directed by an indisputably great filmmaker. Really shockingly bad. The Stranger is better, but not actually good, and I've never seen The Branches of the Tree.


Chiriyakhana is worse than Enemy, but either way they're both skippable. Not a fan of Stranger either, but I owe it a second look.

Branches is quite poor as well, with the worst Soumitra Chatterjee performance I've ever seen. I'll buy any decent release of any Ray film, but really the only thing I'm excited about here is Home and the World, and I don't miss Branches at all.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:18 pm 
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I am not sure how do you guys define "worst film", but in An Enemy of the People, Ray tackled probably the most controversial topic in his career. I guess you have to be a Bengali to understand such critical matter. Its not among his top tier films, but its definitely the weak one among the three films in the set.
I could have never imagined that The Home and the World would be released on DVD (without any extras) in USA, especially from Criterion. This is a major work by Ray digitally restored and released by NFDC (The Tagore box set) in India couple of years ago. It looked stunning. I just can't justify their decision of putting this in an Eclipse set. Unfortunately they have already misused the feature length making of The Home and the World doc as an extra on The Music Room disc. They still had the Rabindranath Tagore doc, which they could have used as an extra for a solo release of The Home and the World. I guess, its useless to think about the possibilities anymore.
The Stranger is his last film and its good. Its based on Ray's short story and it will always be an important film because of the legendary Utpal Dutt's last impressive acting. I don't wanna be a spoiler, but its a simple and enjoyable story. You will also hear Ray singing a song in his own voice (dubbed for Dutt).
Overall, this release is just heart breaking for me. If Criterion doesn't release these films on Blu-Ray, who will? I am not in a hurry to buy this set. I have all of them on DVDs. I highly recommend you guys to get it though. If Bergman, Kurosawa, Oshima, Fassbinder can get Eclipse treatment, why not Ray? Although, I still think this is the stupidest decision Criterion has made after their "Dual" one.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:40 am 
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chatterjees wrote:
If Criterion doesn't release these films on Blu-Ray, who will? I

Actually, I'd say the field is wide open now. If AE or some other company does a blu-ray of The Home and the World, they'll be able to scoop up all of the dollars everyone would have spent on the Criterion release.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:48 am 
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feihong wrote:
chatterjees wrote:
If Criterion doesn't release these films on Blu-Ray, who will? I

Uh, did chatterjees just promise to release these films on Blu-ray himself? The bar has been set, newbies.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:56 am 
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swo17 wrote:
feihong wrote:
chatterjees wrote:
If Criterion doesn't release these films on Blu-Ray, who will? I

Uh, did chatterjees just promise to release these films on Blu-ray himself? The bar has been set, newbies.

I'd buy 'em. Well, I'd buy The Home and the World. It sounds like the other ones aren't as good.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:48 am 
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Come on guys, stop playing with my sentiment :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:53 pm 

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From my point of view, the logical pairing should have been Charulata and Home and the World Blu Rays in one package. Both these films are based on Tagore stories. Both relate to married women falling in love. Both stories arise from Tagore's very personal experience (he had a very intense relationship - believed to be platonic - with his brother's wife, that ended with her suicide). And Home and the World is already available in a very good DVD as part of the Films from Tagore Stories set - the Eclipse issue adds no value to it. However, this is now a lost opportunity, and there is not point dwelling on it.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:04 pm 
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Already got these three on AE or Mr Bongo (The Stranger - which isn't as bad as their others as I recall), so Eclipses are going to have to be very good for me to upgrade.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:18 pm 
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DVDBeaver

Very big upgrade in picture quality from the Artificial Eye releases, although I'll be keeping the Artificial Eye set for the music of Satyajit Ray documentary for now. It should be noted in the Eclipse set "Enemy" is noted as being in Bengali, while the AE set is noted as being in Hindi.


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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 5:45 pm 
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Watching The Stranger I was very surprised how little it supports the negative reception here. It definitely is not amongst his best films and I don't think I'll ever get used to Ray's lighting style in colour, but for a simple, sweetly moral story. Whether he is the uncle seems to only be a concern of the characters while the film raises itself in asking if that matters. That's very much childrens morality time type concerns, but I'm okay with that especially given how Ray uses this quality for some weird characters. I'll accept that I liked the film so much due to low expectations, but even with that I find calling it a bad movie misapplied.


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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 6:52 pm 

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I actually quite liked The Stranger when I rewatched it (from the Eclipse box). Much better than my initial impressions. Even An Enemy of the People wasn't all that bad on a second look.


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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 7:24 pm 
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Yeah, some of the dialogue was odd and sometimes it looks analog sourced, but there's some moments like the argument in the dark which are as good as anything he's shot in colour. A mildly moving experience.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:46 pm 
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The notes to An Enemy of the People mentions a television show Ray was involved with after his heart attack. Has anyone seen it or knows of anything about it beyond what the notes mention?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:36 pm 
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As per my knowledge most of the TV series he was involved in, were directed by his son Sandip. All of the stories were written by Satyajit Ray off course. I don't have access to the note. Did it mention the names of the TV projects. I am sure I have seen them all. Satyajit Ray was (his name still is) kind of a brand name in Kolkata, so anything with his name on it, still sells like hot cake!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:47 am 
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They said it was an anthology series called Satyajit Ray Presents mentioning the fact that it was written by him while he medically could not direct. They didn't mention that his son served as director though that makes sense given the other information the notes mention.


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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 8:25 am 
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Maybe this will be a bad question due to the lack of love this set seems to have gotten here, but here goes:

This weekend, I finally watched The Apu Trilogy and completely adored it (in particular, Pather Panchali). Tonight, I kept on and watched The Music Room. It honestly did not grab me as much as Apu, but I did enjoy it (particularly the last 20 minutes or so). I plan to pick up The Big City and Charulata during the next sale. The only other Ray I own at this time is this set. Does anyone have an opinion on which of these three films would be the best one to start with?


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