Monday, November 17, 2008
Satyajit Ray is a filmmaker I've been meaning to check out for a long while, and I'm glad I finally did, although it may be the last one of his I watch for a long while. This seemed like a pretty wonderful little movie, I think the first movie from India that I've ever seen, but the experience was sullied by perhaps the worst subtitles I have ever had the misfortune of reading. Not only were there frequent spelling and grammar errors, but words were sometimes left out, sentences seemed out of sequence, sometimes they wouldn't be on the screen long enough to read, and for about half the movie they were out of sync by a good 5 seconds, making it difficult to determine who was saying what. A few years back I downloaded some shitty, fan-made subtitles to an Oldboy bootleg I had before it came out on DVD, and they were more clear and better synced than these were.
Still, I'm pretty sure it was a good movie. Kind of reminded me of an Indian version of an Ozu film, where the characters are everyday people, and there's no big conflict necessarily but a lot of warmth and insight. It's from the 60's and is about the gender roles of the times, with a bit of a feminist message. I'm assuming this is a somewhat accurate representation of India at the time it was filmed, and it's almost funny how casually sexist everyone is. Early in the film one of the main characters teases his daughter for studying. Why bother, he asks, when she's just going to spend the rest of her life in the kitchen, like her mother? If a character said this in an American movie, this would flag them as an asshole. But here, the father is a sympathetic character who represents the old fashioned values of the culture.
All the Ray movies on the Netflix were released by the same company, so I'm assuming that the subtitles are equally awful. Until they release some better DVDs, I don't think I'll be watching any more of his movies any time soon, which is a shame.