Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meghe dhaka tara / The Cloud-Capped Star [2012 digital restoration]

La stella nascosta. IN 1960. D: Ritwik Ghatak. Based on a story by Shaktipada Rajguru. SC: Ritwik Ghatak. DP: Dinen Gupta. ED: Ramesh Joshi. M: Jyotirindra Maitra. C: Supriya Chowdhury (Nita), Anil Chatterjee (Shankar), Bijan Bhattacharya (Taran, il padre), Gita Dey (la madre), Gita Ghatak (Gita), Dwiju Bhawal (Mantu, il fratello), Niranjan Roy (Sanat). PC: Chitrakalpa. Premiere: 14. aprile 1960. 2K DCP. 126’. B&w. In Bengalese. From: National Film Archive of India. Wednesday 27 July 2012, Cinema Lumière - Sala Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). English subtitles on the DCP.

The restoration was carried out by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine. Ritrovata film laboratory in 2012. It was based on the original camera negatives, original sound negative and a combined dupe positive coming from the National Film Archive of India.

Ritwik Ghatak: “The language of film is universal and deeply national all at once. That is to say that these two dimensions must be made one by drawing on the symbols and archetypes of our country. […] It is the reason why, yes, I am obviously inspired by a few foreign models. The great masters should be stolen from, what is universal as well. A certain amount of assimilation, another of synthesis, that’s what this search is made of. We tried to create a movement. But we were just individuals, like many solitary birds. At the time, the country’s situation made any unified movement impossible. I felt things in my own way; everyone else in theirs, and nevertheless there was always this one, common search.

“Every artist has the duty to preserve his capacity to be surprised, to be internally vigilant and eternally virgin. Without this ability, it will be impossible for him to achieve great things. The subtle secret concealed in every act of creation basically consists in pausing to observe every single thing, in capturing it in a silent wonder, in being enchanted by a passing object, or giving in to pleasure’s totality, and then after a long time, once the calm has returned, in uprooting this intimate feeling from within one’s own spirit, giving it form, and breathing life into it. In one way or another, every artist manages to carry his childhood with him, keeps it in his pocket into adulthood. If it eludes him, he is nothing more than a fogey; he ceases to be an artist and becomes a theorist. Childhood is an extremely fragile state of mind, a state of folding in on oneself, like those wild yet delicate plants that wither at the slightest touch. Childhood crumbles, withers and loses its energy with the crude touch of the everyday. Every artist has had this experience.” Ritwik Ghatak

Raymond Bellour: “Add the oblique lines, trees, river banks, the train, which seem to lose their balance due to the tension between empty and full. Add the song, its surges, its subtle plains, its falls and sudden rises, the train noise that cuts through it, dividing and accelerating the rhythm. Add Shankar’s spasmodic gestures. The slow variation of Nita’s movements. Then you have an image in which, in three very simple shots, Ghatak creates a modulation fed by collisions and conflicts, here still contained, and a formal imbalance in every moment, like an echo of the historical and personal imbalance that creates the melodramatic backdrop to all his films: the partition of Bengal.” Raymond Bellour

AA: I had planned to see this masterpiece by Ritwik Ghatak, but it overlapped with Remorques, and while trying to focus on Meghe dhaka tara I was still so overwhelmed by Remorques that after fifteen minutes I gave up. I managed to get an impression of the beautiful digital restoration and the high quality of the image as seen from the back row of Sala Mastroianni.

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