Satyajit Ray’s feature debut from 1955 introduced the indelible character of Apu in a film of striking lyricism and deep humanism.
A film that speaks so directly and so movingly of human pain and human joy and, most important, of human dignity.
Despite their family’s meagre means, Apu and his older sister Durga make their own fun, running through fields of tall grass to watch trains cross the rural Bengal landscape they call home and listening to their ‘auntie’ Indir’s bedtime stories, while their increasingly anxious mother Sarbojaya frets for her husband’s return.
The release in 1955 of Satyajit Ray’s debut feature, Pather Panchali – with a musical score by Ravi Shankar and ravishing cinematography by Subrata Mitra – announced the arrival of an important new voice in the international cinema scene. A portrait of rural Bengali life in a style inspired by Italian neorealism overlaid with a mesmerising lyricism, Ray’s naturalistic yet poetic evocation of the life of an impoverished family introduced the character of Apu; a figure that would reappear in Ray’s films over the series collectively known as The Apu Trilogy. The indelible character of Apu is introduced to us in Pather Panchali as an inquisitive, wide-eyed, free-spirited child. In the films that followed, shot over the course of five years – Aparajito (The Unvanquished) in 1956, and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) in 1959 – the character of Apu matures into an adolescent and finally, a sensitive man of the world.
– Roberta Ciabarra; Curator, Film
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