THE CHESS PLAYERS (Satyajit Ray, 1977)

This is what Akira Kurosawa said about Satyajit Ray: “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.”
     Since it has been trimmed of a quarter-hour for its U.S. incarnation, perhaps Ray’s The Chess Players (Shatranj Ke Khilari) isn’t due any legitimate criticism from me. In effect, I am not seeing the full moon.
     The film is certainly fine, okay—and visually splendiferous. But if I hadn’t known that Ray wrote and directed it, I never would have guessed that The Chess Players is a Ray film. Its genial satire is very far from Ray’s usual rigor. The only other Ray films I have seen that are as relaxed as this one are ones Ray specifically made for family viewing.
     I am disappointed. Perhaps making a film in Hindi took Ray, a Bengal, out of his comfort zone.

One thought on “THE CHESS PLAYERS (Satyajit Ray, 1977)

  1. I think your review of The Chess Players is accurate. The reason why it does not measure up to his other works, is probably the fact that he was working with Bollywood producers. This consequently meant a loss of freedom that Ray would have otherwise not had to contend with in his Bengali productions which were run on very low shoe string budgets.

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