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The Brilliance of Satyajit Ray

Sunday, August 24, 2014
5:00 p.m. An Enemy of the People
Satyajit Ray (India, 1989)

(Ganashatru). Ray adapted the Ibsen play Enemy of the People for his return to filmmaking, after nearly a half-decade’s absence due to heart problems. A beloved doctor in the countryside (Ray regular Soumitra Chatterjee) realizes his community’s water supply is being tainted and poisoned by pollution, and soon identifies a temple and tourist destination as the prime source. His discovery, though, is greeted not by praise, but condemnation; who is he to interfere with a religious temple, or to suggest that the community lose money by shutting it down? Science, religion, and profit collide in this intriguing adaptation, shot entirely indoors due to Ray’s continued health issues. “I had an ambulance and doctor in attendance,” he noted in a New York Times interview. “Their verdict was that I kept better when I was shooting.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Ray, adapted from the play by Henrik Ibsen. Photographed by Barun Rahu. With Soumitra Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Ruma Gubathakurta, Mamata Shankar. (100 mins, In Bengali with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center, courtesy Academy Film Archive, permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection)