The Music Room (Jalsaghar)

The Music Room

(Jalsaghar, Satyajit Ray, 1958)

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

Summary
: Satyajit Ray's The Music Room is an enduring song and a beautifully regal contribution to cinema.




The Music Room is such a beautiful and emotive film that you can't help but feel its embrace. It tells the story of Huzur Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas), a Bengal nobleman living out his days in silence and confusion amid his crumbling mansion in the middle of nowhere.

Through flashback we understand that his many sorrows in life have revolved around events held in his music room - gatherings of family members and associates in demonstrations of wealth and nobility that mask raw emotions with enchanting melodies.

As the wealth diminishes and the personal ties are strained further, we come to accept that these people are born out of time and have been left on the wayside. There are comparisons to the novel and subsequent masterpiece film The Leopard here but perhaps The Music Room is even more evocative.



Ray's film is ornate and majestic. Of course, the music is sublime too. Criterion's Blu-ray does a lovely job at letting this jewel shine for all it's worth with a (largely) brilliant print and a collection of thoughful extras to boot:

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
     
  • Satyajit Ray (1984), a feature documentary by Shyam Benegal that chronicles Ray’s career through interviews with the filmmaker, family photographs, and extensive clips from his films
     
  • New interviews with Satyajit Ray biographer Andrew Robinson and filmmaker Mira Nair
     
  • Excerpt from a 1981 French roundtable discussion with Ray, film critic Michel Ciment, and director Claude Sautet
     
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
     
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Philip Kemp, a 1963 essay by Ray on the film’s location, and a 1986 interview with the director about the film’s music

     


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