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The Big City

Directed by Satyajit Ray

India, 1963

Cornerhouse, 2 February 2013

The Big City

In India in the early ‘60s, a young married woman takes a job.

And the whole dynamic within her family – her relationship with her husband, children and parents – gradually undergoes change.  She even, in time, comes to wear lipstick – a marker of liberation.

An unsensational film, yet absolutely engrossing, primarily because it is so accurately, so closely observed.  You are shown an individual flower not a specimen, even though from it one can pick out certain tensions that define India, then and now: the conflict between the sexes, the generations and different ethnic groups (here, Bengalis and Anglo-Indians), between tradition and modernity.

Then again, taking another route, one can point out that the film is made with great artistry and is full of human warmth and the promise of a human future, within ‘the big city’.

A true classic, showing again as part of the Matinee Classics season on Wednesday, further details here.

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