Satyajit Ray’s World of Restless Watchfulness and Nuance

From The New York Times:

Rayslide1 “I find I am inimical to the idea of making two similar films in succession,” wrote the great Indian director Satyajit Ray in 1966, and in this, as in everything he wrote or filmed, he spoke the truth. At that point, 11 years after the premiere of his first movie, “Pather Panchali,” he had written and directed 13 features, all of which will be on view at the Walter Reade Theater starting Wednesday, along with seven from the next decade of his career. The films are at least as various as his statement suggests, and you’re not likely to worry, as Ray did in 1966, whether their diversity indicates “a restlessness of mind, an indecision, a lack of direction resulting in a blurring of outlook — or if there is an underlying something which binds my disparate works together.”

Restless, yes. Blurry, never. And the “underlying something,” which is simply his bottomless curiosity about how people negotiate the most urgent demands of nature and culture, is impossible to mistake, no matter what kind of Satyajit Ray movie you’re watching.

More here. (Note: “First Light: Satyajit Ray From the Apu Trilogy to the Calcutta Trilogy” runs through April 30 at the Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center; (212) 875-5600,