A to Z of Films Meme ©

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.

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  • 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? 🙂

  • 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.

  • Mahen­dra, you have indeed seen a lot of good cin­e­ma! I have seen nei­ther of these two films!

  • 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?

  • Dot­tie

    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!

  • 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.


  • 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.).

  • what about Cidade de deus ?
    id rate it above Kane (though it is well made)!