Satyajit Ray’s Charulata will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year. It will be one of the 20 movies to be presented as part of Cannes Classics, a section established in 2004 to celebrate old masterpieces that have been digitally restored. Charulata, based on a Tagore story and starring Ray favourite Soumitra Chatterjee as well as Madhabi Mukherjee and Shailen Mukherjee, won the Silver Bear at Berlin for Direction in 1965.
It was at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival that Ray first won international recognition with his debut feature, Apur Sansar. A restored version of this was also shown at the Festival some years ago; Mrinal Sen’s Khandar was another Indian classic to have been screened in the past with the director himself present there. This year, Cannes Classics will have 20 features and three documentaries. Among them will be Alfred Hitchcock’s unforgettable, Vertigo (1958), based on the 1954 novel, D'entre les morts by Boileau-Narceja.
Kim Novak, who played the troubled heroine in the pulse-pounding psychological thriller, will not only attend the screening of Vertigo, but also be part of the Festival’s closing ceremony on May 26, when she would give away one of the prizes. Novak first attended the Festival in 1959 to present Middle of the Night by Delbert Mann. Her most memorable roles included the prostitute with a big heart in Kiss Me, Stupid by Billy Wilder, the witch in Richard Quine’s Bell Book and Candle, and the adulteress in another Quine film, Strangers When We Meet. But Novak’s most impressive appearance was in Vertigo, probably Hitchcock’s finest work, which he described as, a love story with a strange atmosphere.
About her role, Novak said, “What was interesting was that the scene reflected what I was going through at the time: it was the story of a woman who was forced to be someone she wasn’t.” Unwilling to accept the iron rule of the studios, the wonderful actress left Hollywood prematurely, devoting her life to painting. Some of the other Classics which will be seen at Cannes this May are Cleopatra (1963), Fedora (1978), Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and The Last Emperor (1987). The Festival begins on May 15.