The works of Satyajit Ray, theoretically India's most celebrated film director worldwide, are still today mostly unseen even by cinephiles. Most of what I know about the great humanist I learned by reading about him, and before I saw this film recently for the first time I felt I knew its themes intimately. Yet when I actually sat down to experience the film for myself, I found myself hypnotized by the kinds of things that even the greatest critics in the world cannot possibly describe. From its opening credits, which feature the mesmerizing sounds of a sitar accompanied by a slow zoom on a dark chandelier, Ray makes it clear that he means to cast a spell on us. As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that what he wants is to put us in a more serene and innocent state of mind, to relax and seduce us so that we may experience his film as a child would experience a fairy tale. The simple narrative finds on the roof of his lavish house aged nobleman Huzur Biswambhar Roy, played with graceful sluggishness by Chhabi Biswas (a brilliant performance- one I couldn't possibly imagine done by anyone but Biswas) Like us, Roy is in some kind of trance, but his is one of boredom and sadness, or possibly nihilism. He has been heavily sedated by life's cruelties, as we are soon to find out in an extended flashback sequence, and has resorted to indulging himself to solitude, accompanied only by his faithful servant and his hookah. At that moment, he begins to hear music, and this triggers a story told via sensation. It is astonishing, the way that Ray effortlessly ties or sympathy to Roy based solely on our shared sense of hearing; we feel an addictive joy when we hear music, we feel worry as the sounds of a growing storm become louder outside, we become suspicious and scared when we hear nothing. Yet despite Ray's dependence on the soundscape of the film, its images manage to be among the most beautiful I have ever seen. At the time of this review, it has been over three years since I had my first encounter with a Satyajit Ray film- 'Pather Panchali'- and I have been unable to shake the wonder and tragedy of those sequences from my conscious. Yet these are even more wondrous; they are built with a simplicity and a rich elegance, painted in bold, high-contrast black and white. My viewing experience became a rediscovery of the way in which film can expose textures and moods, and I found the aesthetics so overwhelming that I found myself distracted at times. This is one of those indescribable and totally unique movies, one that seems constructed from instinct by a man who was born to tell stories.