Satyajit Ray in a letter to his biographer Marie Seton on director Louis Malle’s approach to the filming of the documentary Calcutta (via Calcutta: A Cultural and Literary History by Krishna Dutta).
But Malle’s film, with its preoccupation with the exotic and the bizarre, fails to capture Calcutta’s genuine aspiration toward art and culture as a response to harsh realities. Malle was explicitly distrustful of “westernized” Bengalis, and deliberately excluded Bengali artists and thinkers from his film; not even Mrinal Sen (who joined Malle in at least one of his shoots) is permitted a voice. Hence the fact that the film accounts to “nothing of any value,” as Ray perceived, despite western acclaim for the documentary’s “truthfulness”. Once again, as with [Claude] Lévi-Strauss, history and perspective are signally absent. Indeed, it is very much as if Malle had taken Lévi-Strauss’ fascination with Calcutta’s filth and grotesquerie and set out to illustrate them on film.
Monday 24th September at 4:44pm
Tagged with: Satyajit Ray yeah man ugh i watched phantom india a month ago n it was v bad Malle is p overrated anyway but not more reasons to use more aggressive words than mediocre to describe him Louis Malle Calcutta