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- The Goddess
- 93 min.
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With Devi (The Goddess), Satyajit Ray creates an intriguing exploration of the power of faith, telling the story of a young woman who's life and marriage are turned upside down when her father-in-law decides, after a dream/vision, that she's an incarnation of the goddess Kali. Set at the cross-roads between tradition and modernity, the film takes both points of view. Does Kali work through Daya, or are the so-called miracles she performs have an explanation rooted in scientific fact? Does Kali the Destroyer lack the mercy Daya herself has, or is chance as blind as certain characters' faith. Where does faith end and hubris begin? Sharmila Tagore as Daya is extremely effecting, sweet and tragic, someone you want to watch, utterly sympathetic. Ray uses surreal imagery sparingly to give the story a mystic allure without breaking its realism. Given the music is strong (albeit not as strong as in his first opus Pater Panchali), it's a real shame that background noise in scoreless sections is so warbly. I imagine we're hearing monkey howls and other jungle noises throughout, but it's not clear that's it. Just noise on the tape, or sound design meant to put you on edge? I can't tell, but it makes for a noisier experience than I want it to be.
Very clever and courageous movie by the master Satyajit Ray.
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In 6 official lists
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This movie ranks #59 in National Film Archive of India's 125 Great Indian Films
This movie ranks #170 in Doubling the Canon
This movie ranks #234 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #289 in Tom Vick's Asian Cinema: A Field Guide
This movie ranks #465 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #1322 in The Criterion Collection