Thursday, 28 October 2010
Directing the Actor: Look Up, Look Down
I recently watched The World of Apu, Satyajit Ray's wonderful film where the delicacy of touch and pacing is so naturally crafted, it leads you into a space of love, heartache and, ultimately, a kind of redemption. The female lead is Sharmila Tagore, who was 14 when she made the film. The clip above is one of the great domestic scenes of film and shouldn't really be watched outside the context of the full movie.
Ray directed Tagore in the simplest manner possible - he didn't talk about the motivation of the character or how to get into the role, but simply told Tagore to look up, look down, look left, look right. The interplay of glances and gestures, the opening up of the scene as the film progresses is so gentle and unforced - but the way in which Tagore reached his goal is direct and unpretentious. It seems that this simplicity is just as apparent in photography, where the best work is the sum of a few simple parts, where pretension, artifice and disguise have no role to play.
The UK DVD of The World of Apu includes a rather special Mamoun Hassan Masterclass. I couldn't find it online, but his Masterclass on Tokyo Story is at the BFI site.