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THE ELEPHANT GOD

India, 1979 (MIFF 1980, Programme 48)

Director: Satyajit Ray

Each new film by Satyajit Ray brings with it fond memories of earlier privileged moments from this master of cinema. Ray has now been at the height of his powers for some years, and his work in the seventies displays a mixture of humanity, grace and beauty that has led him to be compared with Chekhov and Mozart. Certainly, there is a similar mastery in creating and developing complex ranges of human experience. And in film terms he is one of the few creators who do everything equally well: scripting, photographing, directing actors, editing and composing the music.

His latest film The Elephant God further develops characters that Ray first introduced in his 1974 film The Golden Fortress. The leading character is an Indian Sherlock Holmes called Feluda, who is accompanied by a teenage "Dr. Watson". They investigate the mysterious theft of a valuable gold statuette of Ganesh (the Elephant God), whilst visiting Benares on holiday. Ray then lays out the plot and clues in easy stages as the detective interviews the suspects.

Gradually the atmosphere becomes more threatening and there are some superb set piece sequences including the pursuit of a suspect through the alleys and tenements of Benares and the satiric scenes on the ghats.

Ray's own music offers some piquant orchestrations that are an additional virtue in this light-hearted and less serious work by an acknowledged master.

Satyajit Ray - Born 1921

Feature films — Father Panchali (1952), Aparajito (1956), The Philosopher's Stone (1 957), The Music Room (1958). The World ofApu (1959), Devi (1960), Two Daughters (1961), Kanchenjungha (1 961). Abhijan (1961), Mar)anagar(1963), Charulata (1964), Kapurush-o-Mahapurush (1965), Nayak (1 966). Chiriakhana (1967), The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (1968), Days and Nights in the Forest (1969), The Adversary (1970), Company Limited (1971), Distant Thunder (1972), The Golden Fortress (1974), The Middleman (1975), The Chess Players (1977), The Elephant God (1979).

See also...

THE CHESS PLAYERS

This is Satyajit Ray's first film with Hindi and English dialogue. It is also his first historical film, set in mid-nineteenth century India. It is based on a short story by Munshi Premchand. ... Two ... More »

PATHER PANCHALI

The 1956 Cannes Festival was remarkably rich in entries from famous directors. ^ Yet-in warmth, humanity and poetic sensitivity none could measure up to the first work of an outstanding film-maker ... More »

DISTANT THUNDER

This is Satyajit Ray's second film in colour, and the Grand Prize winner at the Berlin Festival. The film is set in 1942, and its subject is the impact of war on an isolated Bengali village. ... The ... More »

THE HOME AND THE WORLD

In 1905, in keeping with the 'Divide and Rule' policy of India's British overlords, Lord Curzon (the British Viceroy) proposes splitting Bengal into two separate administrative units, intended to ... More »

APARAJITO

This is the second film of Satyajit Ray's trilogy which began with the remarkable Father Panchali, shown at last year's Festival. At the end of part one, Harihar, his wife Sarbojaya, and their son ... More »

KANCHENJUNGHA

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 ... More »

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