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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Bengali PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interview program with actors Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee
  • Adapting Tagore, a new interview program featuring Indian film scholar Moinak Biswas and Bengali literature historian Supriya Chaudhuri
  • Archival audio interview with director Satyajit Ray by film historian Gideon Bachmann

Charulata

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Satyajit Ray
Starring: Madhabi Mukherjee, Suprova Mukerjee
1964 | 118 Minutes | Licensor: The RDB Organization

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #669
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 20, 2013
Review Date: August 21, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

This film about a woman's artistic and romantic yearning by Satyajit Ray is set in late nineteenth-century, pre-independence India. It takes place in the gracious home of a liberal-minded, workaholic newspaper editor and his lonely, stifled wife, Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), whose exquisitely composed features mask a burning creativity. When her husband's poet cousin comes to stay with them, Charulata finds herself both inspired by him to pursue her own writing and dangerously drawn to him physically. Based on a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is a work of subtle textures, a delicate tale of a marriage in jeopardy and a woman taking the first steps toward establishing her own voice.

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PICTURE

Criterion presents Satyajit Rayís Charulata on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc. The new high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

Like The Big City, Charulataís presentation is superb. The image again is sharp with superb clarity and depth. I found the finer details actually show through much better (like the fine embroidery on a handkerchief early on) and contrast doesnít look to be as boosted here, with darker sequences looking a little cleaner with inkier blacks. Film grain is visible and looks natural, and again there are very few print flaws, limited to a few minor marks and bits of debris, and some fading as the film concludes.

Some very minor quibbles aside this transfer, like the others Criterion have presented on their other Ray releases, is another wonderful surprise. After having to put up with lackluster DVDs for some of his other films itís fantastic to see these Blu-rays delivers such fantastic presentations.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The lossless Bengali PCM 1.0 mono track is fairly brutal, showing its age. It has been cleaned up, so I donít recall any background noise, static, or anything along the lines of pops or scratches. But there is no depth nor fidelity present. Dialogue and music both sound incredibly flat and tinny. Thereís no life or range to it. English moments scattered about are hard to hear but Criterion thankfully subtitles these moments so itís not a large concern.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

There isnít much to be found here, unfortunately, with only a few supplements of note. Interviews with the Actors is a 17-minute interview with Madhabi Mukherjee (Charulata) and Soumitra Chatterjee (Amal.) Here the two simply talk about their characters, their motivations, the time periods in which both the film was made and takes place, and talk about how Ray worked with his actors. Both are charming individuals and have some wonderful insights to share.

Adapting Tagore is a 24-minute set of interviews with Indian film scholar Moinak Biswas and cultural historian Supriya Chaudhuri. Itís a somewhat dry feature but the two cover a number of topics, covering Charulataís author Rabindranath Tagoreís life and work and its importance, while also covering his music. Thereís also discussion about the film and the adaptation, and Rayís use of film language in bringing the story to screen.

The disc then closes with a quick 13-minute segment called Satyajit Ray on Progress which presents an excerpt from an audio interview with the director where he talks about his films and their presentation of progress in India. Though the questions put towards Ray come off as incredibly long winded at times Ray engages them and offers fascinating responses. The interview is in English and plays over a still photograph of the director.

The included booklet then includes an essay on the film by Philip Kemp. Continuing on from the interviews found in The Big Cityís booklet, Criterion includes another excerpt from an interview between Ray and Andre Robinson, this time focusing on Charulata.

At not even an hour itís a pretty sparse collection of supplements, making this release all the more disappointing.

5/10

CLOSING

Though the supplements are fine enough itís disappointing thereís so little. At least the video transfer makes up for that and in that regard the release comes with a recommendation.


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