Ray was channelling this content from the outside, but he was also projecting it from the inside: the film presents an agonised, often self-lacerating exercise in autobiography (something he would continue, in another register, with Wim Wenders on the Lightning Over Water  project).
...When Ray surfaced again [after being pushed out of Hollywood], in 1971, he worked with his students [at Harpur College] on a movie, “We Can’t Go Home Again,” that differed radically from his earlier films. Since he wasn’t in Hollywood and wasn’t working with a cast or crew from the studios, he didn’t work as directors do there. Rather, he developed an advanced and complex cinematic form to match his personal situation and the troubled times.
“You think you know it all just because you’ve made movies and you’re old? Huh?” If We Can’t Go Home Again is Ray’s response, then the answer is a resounding “I don’t know.” Ray develops possibly the most beguiling of images attributed to a (former) Hollywood director, crossing fully into the avant-garde with this quintessential work of community filmmaking (made in collaboration with and depicting the students of his class at Harpur College).