Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy": Pather Panchali + Aparajito

Pather Panchali – 7:30pm
Springing up from the very soil of Bengal, and accompanied by an incredible score by Ravi Shankar (improvised in a single afternoon!), Satyajit Ray’s debut feature Pather Panchali remains, more than fifty years on, one of the great pillars of Indian cinema. This rural-realist look at the poorest of the poor is seen primarily through the wide-open eyes of the little boy Apu and his sister, who live in a small village settlement almost overgrown by the jungle, and gaze in wonder at the thundering train that passes on the other side of the meadow, headed for a world more different from their own than they can even imagine. But for all the apparent detachment, Ray’s artistry in narrative, symbolism and lyricism is deceptively sly, building a complex web of motivation that builds to a devastating climax. Ray astonished the world when Pather Panchali, shot on weekends over two years, was unveiled at a time when the Indian film industry was non-existant as far as the West was concerned; come experience that same infectious wonder in beautiful 35mm!
Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1955, 35mm, 115 min.

Aparajito – 9:45pm
“Continuing Satyajit Ray’s honest and sensitive portrayal of one Bengali boy’s life, Aparajito leads Apu into young adulthood and further heartbreak. Apu’s father has relocated the family to Benares. Here he can earn a living working as a Brahmin priest, conducting Hindu rituals by the Ganges. To bolster this meagre income, he also dispenses herbal medicine to those too poor, or too wary, to see a real doctor. Only Apu seems truly content, roaming the alleys with other boys and amusing himself, gaining his education on the streets. In creating Aparajito, Ray has fashioned a study of truth, about how things are rather than how we would like them to be. This is a time of inner and outer turmoil for Apu, torn from his old friends by external forces and disorientated by the hormonal urges of his growing body. Ray latches onto this emotional conflict, revealing its nuances. Aparajito doesn’t just evoke fear, it contains the fear of losing (someone else), the fear of driving (someone else) away and the fear of being forgotten (by someone else)…Ray’s feel for the coupled themes of independence and abandonment is superb, informed by an ability to capture fleeting emotion on film.” – Damian Cannon, Movie Reviews UK
Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1956, 35mm, 113 min.

Films restored by the Satyajit Ray Preservation Project at the Academy Film Archive with funding from the Film Foundation. Prints courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

Watch Cinefamily’s trailer for The Apu Trilogy!