Home and the World: The Films of Satyajit Ray
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Course Number: NFLM 3002
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Media Studies
- Film & Video History, Theory & Criticism
Satyajit Ray began making movies in India beginning in the 1950s, shortly after the nation attained independence from Britain. His Bengali-language films explore colonial and postcolonial realities, including tensions between tradition and modernity, changing gender roles, and the urban/rural divide. His films are very much in the neorealist tradition but incorporate elements of Bengali folklore and literature to create a unique aesthetic. Ray is known for his meticulous approach to filmmaking. He wrote his own screenplays and involved himself in every part of the process. He influenced directors as different as Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson. We study five great films: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, Apur Sansar, Charulata, and Devi. We approach Ray’s work from the perspectives of formalist and structuralist film theory and sociological constructions of postcolonialism and gender and sexuality. We discuss and deconstruct narrative elements and social context as well as filmic elements such as lighting, framing, shot composition, editing, and sound design. Students view the films outside of class and read related texts assigned by the instructor. They must watch Pather Panchali before the first session. This is one of three five-week courses on world cinema auteurs that complement one another when taken sequentially.