Pages Navigation Menu

The Films of Satyajit Ray

The Sun and the Moon: The Films of Satyajit Ray


“Not to have seen the films of Ray would mean existing in a world without the sun or the moon.”

— Akira Kurosawa

His career lasted over thirty years and in that time, Satyajit Ray would become known as one of the greatest filmmakers to ever live. Born in Calcutta on May 2, 1921, Ray would have a great realization after meeting Jean Renoir in 1951. During the production of Renoir’s THE RIVER, Renoir instructed a young Ray, his assistant at the time, to pursue his goal of making a film adaptation of the 1928 short story, “Pather Panchali”. In 1950, Ray visited London, where he saw Vittorio De Sica’s BICYCLE THIEVES. Ray later stated that it was this film that made him finally decide to become a filmmaker.

When Ray died in 1992, the humanism captured in his films could never be revived. While we are able to watch Ray’s films now, there will never be another filmmaker like him.

With the help of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, TIFF is presenting a retrospective of Ray’s work, which includes some films that have largely been unavailable for many years. The AMPAS has been working since 1992 on the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project and their work results in this amazing retrospective which shows as much of Ray’s work as possible.

The World of Apu

The World of Apu

While all of Ray’s films are great, some of the highlights in the retrospective are:

THE APU TRILOGY (1955-1959)

Made up of PATHER PACHALI (1955), APARAJITO (1956), and THE WORLD OF APU (1959), the Apu films are regarded as one of the greatest trilogies ever made by many cinephiles. The films follow the life of Apu, from being raised by a poor family in Bengal, to leaving his mother to study in Calcutta, to being coerced into marrying a friend’s cousin; in what are perhaps some of the most heartbreaking and uplifting films ever made. All three films are being projected from newly restored 35mm prints, that both look and sound fantastic.


In Ray’s fourth film, a once wealthy elderly man sells his last valuables to fund one final lavish concert in his mansion’s music room. THE MUSIC ROOM is considered by many to be Ray’s best film. It is certainly one of Ray’s most cinematic and features an excellent starring performance from Chhabi Biswas.

DEVI (The Goddess) (1960)

In DEVI, a young woman played by THE WORLD OF APU’s Sharmila Tagore, is convinced by her father-in-law that she is the reincarnation of the goddess Kali. After a series of miracles occur, an entire village becomes convinced that the young woman is in fact Kali incarnated.




With the film, Ray showed audiences that he really could do just about anything. Completely different from Ray’s other films, THE ADVENTURES OF GOOPY AND BAGHA is a musical comedy, and definitely a great one. Ray stated that he made the film for his son, who was eight-years-old at the time. Of all the films Ray ever made, none did as well domestically as this one. In the film, Goopy (a singer) and Bagha (a drummer) begin an adventure after a chance meeting in the jungle.


In 1977, Ray wrote and directed THE CHESS PLAYERS, his first film in the Hindi language. The film takes place in 1958 and follows two men completely taken by the game of chess. The two men ignore their wives and the changes in their community as they become obsessed over the strategic game.

The Sun and the Moon: The Films of Satyajit Ray is running now at the TIFF Bell Lightbox until August 17. For more information and for tickets, please visit

Share Your Thoughts