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KANCHENJUNGHA

India, 1963 (MIFF 1968, Programme 1)

Director: Satyajit Ray

The setting for Satyajit Ray's first film in colour is the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalayas: a point suspended in time between modern India and the gracious past. Here, affluent citizens from Calcutta take refuge from the summer heat. The entire action of the film takes place during one afternoon—during the last day of the stay of a wealthy family. Here, on holiday with his down­trodden relatives, an elderly tycoon finds his values shattered by a chance meeting with a young man who refuses to be ruled. . . .

As the characters stroll about the converging paths, their lives shape subtly into new patterns: past and present are revealed woven into a rich texture. Throughout their perambulations, the tracking camera catches the mists that gather to turn the colours into subtle pastels, then drift away to allow the sun to highlight bright, pictorial settings. Ray uses the changing moods of the weather to counterpoint the develop­ment of his story.

This was the first film in which Ray showed his country's rich bourgeoisie, a class he knows well. It was also his first film in which the women were recognizably modern, having acquired the boredom of sophistication. Finally, it is the only Ray film in which the English apear: the Viceroys have gone, leaving behind a slightly preposterous jumble of music and milk chocolate.

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