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The Cloud-Capped Star (1960)

Cast: Anil Chatterjee, Supriya Choudhury
Director: Ritwik Ghatak
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Facets
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Politics and Social Issues, India, Dysfunctional Families
Running Time: 122 min.
Languages: Bengali
Subtitles: English

Arguably Ghatak's finest work, THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR is a dark melodrama set in late Fifties Calcutta abut a refugee family and the struggle of Nita, the oldest daughter, to keep them afloat and together. It is a bitter critique of the family as institution and also of the harsh social and economic conditions arising from Partition--the trauma that defined Ghatak as an artist. With its sparse script, audacious expressionist soundtrack and a startling cinematic elegance, THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR is undoubtedly a modern masterpiece--infinitely compassionate and humane while remaining resolutely unsentimental.

GreenCine Member Reviews

Remarkable by mcputnam January 7, 2004 - 9:33 AM PST
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This is a remarkable film, if a bit melodramatic at times. The key to understanding the themes is to watch the extras which give some background about the history of partition, that is, the partition of India and Pakistan (just be wary of watching too much, it'll spoil the plot). If you don't know this history, you'd never be able to pick up on the context from which the central theme of the film--separation--emerges.

Separation or partition comes up in a number of ways, the slow and painful separation and disintegration of the family at the center of the film, the separation of modern from traditional (a theme that comes up in the culture of developing nations all over the world), the separation of art and the life of the artist from practical considerations of making ends meet.

I disagree with GreenCine on one point. The film is not a critique of the family, but a bitter realization that the strength of family is no match for the trauma of modernization and partition that ripped at the seams of even the strongest institutions of Indian civilization and culture.

And this is the emotional heart of the story. We watch as a single, small Indian family is obliterated at the hands of geo-political forces far beyond its capacity to resist. Hollywood or Bollywood this is not.

The film is stunningly well shot, stark black and white, contrasting hues with such force as to rival the finest film noir. The sound track deserves special mention. One of the central characters is a musician and singer and the music throughout the film is an extraordinary sampling of mind-blowing traditional Indian music, almost worth the rental alone.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.75)
16 Votes
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