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Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker Paperback – February 21, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"... an extraordinarily good, detailed and selfless book."--V.S. Naipaul

"I have read this book with profound admiration for its research and the manner in which it has integrated the details. It is an important document as well as a literary contribution."--R.K. Narayan

"...extremely thorough often perceptive and at times highly entertaining."--Salman Rushdie

About the Author

Andrew Robinson is the author of acclaimed works on Rabindranath Tagore, and the editor of three screenplays by Satyajit Ray. He is literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris; Revised edition (February 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860649653
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860649653
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,525,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Kay on May 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Inner Eye by Andrew Robinson, (I.B.Tauris 2004) is an attempt to deal with an unusual problem: a writer, composer, artist and film maker, of world stature, who created in a relatively obscure language and whose works risk misrepresentation and oblivion without some sort of interpreter, both of the works and the culture which gave them birth. Before looking at the book we have to look a little at the problem.

Satyajit Ray is a name to mention when compiling lists of great film directors, but when you ask around, not that many people have actually seen his films. The early Apu trilogy of films are well known, but Ray made 37 films and most of these are unknown, in India and in the West. The reasons are not far to seek. Ray was a Bengali, a Calcutta man to his core, and he preferred to, needed to, make his films in Bengal, spoken in Bengali. He thus missed out on the millions to be earned in the Bollywood film industry: Bengali is a minority language, and few Indians understand it. On the other hand Ray's films were influenced by Western cinema, and his films have been shown there, but nuances, allusions and references obvious to Bengalis pass unnoticed or puzzle the Western viewer and cannot be conveyed in subtitles.

Another way to consider this situation is to look at Ray as a Bengali might. This is not my viewpoint: both Western and Bengali cultures are alien ones to me. I am merely using my imagination. In Calcutta, one finds, there is not one Satyajit Ray but many.

Ray is a best selling and enormously popular author who excelled at detective, science fiction and children's literature, and made his living by writing it. His stories and characters are not just popular, but are known, in a way only possible where an oral culture lingers on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Alston on September 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Any serious admirer of Satyajit Ray probably is already aware of this biography; I would also recommend it to general readers: if you aren't already familiar with Ray (I don't know many Americans who are), you will love him by the time you're done with this very engaging and readable critical bio.

Robinson, who had been a friend of Ray's, spent a number of years working on this, and his account of Ray's family and childhood draws upon interviews and conversations, supplemented with material from Ray's own CHILDHOOD DAYS, MY YEARS WITH APU, and other sources. Robinson paints a portrait of a Calcutta overflowing with creative potential - Ray's family connections to Tagore are also detailed, as are the accomplishments of his father and grandfather, and the intellectual independence of his mother, who seemed to strongly influence at least a few of his cinematic characters.

Later on, Robinson engages in a film-by-film analysis of Ray's career, which includes shorts and documentaries. Accessible but well-researched and well-written critiques are followed with some personal impressions, and quotes from varied film critics and other filmmakers: fans of Jean Renoir and Akira Kurosawa will note their presence here, and their influence upon Ray's thinking and career. Robinson locates each film with certain contexts: Indian cinema, the 1950s/60s international arthouse boom, the artistic milieu of Calcutta, and Ray's many international influences and fascinations; the end result is something that will make one want to see (and read) as much of Ray's work as one can get one's hands on.

I'm a big admirer of Ray, but - in it's success in realizing its' ambitions - Robinson has also created one of the greater artistic biographies I've run across - this is a rich and very sophisticated piece of writing which I very highly recommended to all.

-David Alston
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ❋ R I Z Z O ❋ VINE VOICE on June 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot think of a more definitive biography than this one! The biography of a master filmmaker is of remarkable detail. Uncommon extras, from something as simple as a section on the maternal and paternal family tree to a page devoted to the pronounciation and origin of the name Satyajit Ray.

Another unusual detailed section is NOTES. The notes refer to a reference line or quote and it's source, publication and date. If the section refers to the Apu Trilogy, then any quotes are clearly identified. Another feature is the glossary of words taken from the book, the languages are Bengali and other Indian languages.

You will also get a complete Filmography and Bibliography, and the book includes a definitive index.

The biography begins with his early life 1921 to his life as a commercial artist and critic. What I believe to be his most famous work, The Apu Trilogy, is well documented and a synopsis is included.

There is plenty of insight into his others, The Music Room, The Goddess, Three Daughters, Kanchenjungha, The Expedition, The Big City, The Lonely Wife, The Coward, and The Hero, Calcutta Trilogy, Distant Thunder, Chess Players, and more.

And, there is more! This is a wonderful reference to one of the greatest movie directors in history. And, he is also a composer!

The version has been updated to cover his death in 1992 and the Ray legacy. A quote on the book from Films and Filming reads: 'A glorious book, a feast of research and insight'

If you haven't seen a Satyajit Ray film, do so and read about it here within 420 pages. ......Rizzo
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