The Golden Fortress (1974)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Sonar Kella

India, 1974.  Government of West Bengal.  Story by Satyajit Ray, Screenplay by Satyajit Ray, Hindi dialogue by .  Cinematography by .  Music by Satyajit Ray.  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Wonderful cross-country adventure that begins when a married couple realize that the drawings their little boy is making are referencing a past life. The boy’s ability to remember living in a “Golden Fortress” full of treasures draws the attention of a doctor of parapsychology who wants to investigate the case, but also inspires the greed of a couple of con artists who kidnap the child in order to get the loot his imaginings promise. This means that the race is on when a wise detective and his teenaged protege follow the trail and are then joined by a delighted adventure story writer who has never lived his creative fancies for real. Riding in cars, on trains and even a few camels, the players hurry their way to the finish line and hope that no one gets too badly hurt. Satyajit Ray makes a somewhat overlong but colourful caper rife with terrific performances and gorgeous cinematography, his ability to capture the nuances of human behavior and connection not wasted on a film more concerned with plot twists than emotional realizations. The richness of the characters and the sympathy they engender while on their lengthy road is a great bonus to a story whose turn-out you just have to see, and the backdrops of vast landscapes and gorgeous old palaces is a pleasure to behold.

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