Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Sometime in the early years of the century, a boy, Apu, is born to a poor Brahmin family in a village in Bengal. The father, a poet and priest, cannot earn enough to keep his family going. Apu's sister, Durga, is forever stealing guavas from the neighbour's orchards. All these add to the daily struggles of the mother's life, notwithstanding her constant bickering with old aunt who lives with the family.
The three films Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar form a trilogy. This is only the first one and depending on the response, I will post the other two. Each film can be viewed as standalone films, so nothing will be lost by checking this one out.
This film is often seen as one of the best classic films out of India. Unlike today's Bollywood offerings, this film capture the true ethnic essenceof the Bengali people. Rated as one of the best 100 films of all time by the Time Magazine in 2005.
Sinopsis: Pather Panchali
Narra la conmovedora historia de una familia bengalí acuciada por la mala suerte. El padre, Harihara, es un sacerdote seglar, curandero, soñador y poeta. Sabajaya, la madre, trabaja para alimentar a una familia, que recibe con alegría y esperanza la llegada de un nuevo hijo, Apu. Debut del gran director indio Satyajit Ray. Supone también el primer film de "La trilogía de Apu".
Présentation: Pather Panchali
Dans un petit village du Bengale, un enfant prénommé Apu naît dans une famille de pauvres gens où il y a déjà une fillette, Durga. La vie est dure et le père, un lettré qui vit dans ses rêves, ne parvient pas à nourrir tout le monde. Durga et sa mère pilent le manioc et épluchent les légumes. Apu grandit et va à l’école. Il écoute les histoires que lui conte et chante à la veillée Tante Indir...
Révélation du Festival de Cannes 1956, ce chef-d’œuvre humaniste fit découvrir aux occidentaux un auteur majeur et désormais incontournable : Satyajit Ray. Cependant, une large partie du public et de la critique le boudère. Seul A. Bazin et quelques rares chroniqueurs en remarquèrent les grandes qualités. Pather Panchali est le premier volet d’une trilogie dont les deux autres films (Aparajito / L’Invaincu, 56 et Le Monde d’Apu, 59) poursuivent la biographie imaginaire du jeune héros. Sous l’influence de Jean Renoir dont il avait suivi le tournage en Inde du film Le Fleuve et qui avait provoqué sa "conversion", Satyajit Ray, de peintre qu’il était, devint avec Pather Panchali, premier film plus qu’inspiré, un cinéaste fondamental, le plus grand de son immense pays.
Kanu Bannerjee ... Harihar Ray
Karuna Bannerjee ... Sarbojaya Ray
Subir Bannerjee ... Apu
Uma Das Gupta ... Durga
Chunibala Devi ... Indir Thakrun
Runki Banerjee ... Little Durga
Reba Devi ... Seja Thakrun
Aparna Devi ... Nilmoni's wife
Director: Satyajit Ray
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award
Codecs: XVid / MP3
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
The film is certainly a masterpiece. The film is overwhelmingly real and the key element in the movie is the maintenance of this realism. The characters are so true to the ethnic rural-sixties Indian existence that one is compelled to wonder if the film was captured through surveillance cameras.
Pather Panchali, released in 1955, is the first film of director Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy. The film is a serene and beautiful depiction of a little boy's childhood in the Indian countryside in the 1950s.The film was made on a shoestring budget by a hitherto unknown director. Apart from a seventy-year-old woman who made her name in the 1930s on the stage, none of the cast had ever acted before and many had been plucked from the Indian rurality. In contrast Satyajit Ray completed the trilogy on the behest of the Indian Prime Minister, pointing to the film's cultural impact.
It's a quiet, simple tale, centering on the life of a small family living in a rural village in Bengal. The father, Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee), is a priest and poet who cares more about his writing and spiritual welfare than obtaining wages he is owed. The mother, Sarbojaya (Karuna Bannerjee), worries that her husband's financial laxity will leave her without enough food for her two children, daughter Durga (Uma Das Gupta) and son Apu (Subir Bannerjee). Harihar's family often lives on the edge of poverty, coping with the unkind taunts of their neighbors, the burden of caring for an aging aunt (Chunibala Devi), and the terrible aftermath of a natural catastrophe.
Most of what transpires is shown through the eyes of either Sarbojaya or Durga, and, as a result, we identify most closely with these two. Harihar is absent for more than half of the movie, and, before the penultimate scene, Apu is a mere witness to events, rather than a participant. Until the closing moments, we don't get a sense of the young boy as a fully formed individual, since he's always in someone else's shadow.
The simple story of the Bengali family will definitely stay in my heart for a long time to come. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for?........
It is a little known fact that India produces more films per year than any other country. The reason that most people don't know that is because their films do not generally appeal to us, and we would see them as oddities suspended in their own culture. Possibly they'd be amusing or interesting to watch, but they would probably be hard to enjoy (to demonstrate the difference in taste, Roger Ebert attended an Indian film festival a year or two ago, and when he questioned its director what American film did the best business over there, he answered that the movie _Baby's Day Out_, which is basically like one of those Popeye cartoons where Sweet-Pea wanders through construction sights blindly, except extended to 90 minutes, had theaters packed in India all throughout its run; the film bombed completely in the US). Tastes differ. Humanity does not. This is proved to the utmost in Ray's masterful _Pather Panchali_.
This film has got to be the best ever made about, well, life in general. It reminded me a lot of a Chinese film, Zhang Yimou's _To Live_, which was good, but its situations finally seemed a bit contrived. _Pather Panchali_ feels as real as life itself. To be sure, it contains great moments of sadness, but, for the most part, it concentrates on the beauty of the world around us. One of the major characters is this ancient woman, maybe even in her nineties. She is hunched over, has no teeth, and has crooked eyes. But Ray makes her form beautiful. He often finds characters with exaggerated and odd features. And there is nothing more beautiful in this world than the love between members of a family, and Ray revels in this. The relationship between the brother and sister is heartstoppingly beautiful.
The three films Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar form a trilogy, and, although each holds up well in itself, they are best viewed as a unity. Speaking on a purely personal note, I know of no greater achievement in cinema, and have certainly seen nothing that moves me more profoundly.
The twin themes of these films are progress and loss. The former implies the latter, and both are, in a sense, inevitable. This is, as all summaries must be, an over-simplification. Certainly, the loss of childhood, of innocence, of parents, is universal to the human condition. Growing up, progressing from childhood to maturity, is similarly inevitable. But Apu wills his progress: at least, he wills its direction. He always grapples with life, painful though it is. Only once, after the death of his wife (in the third film of the trilogy), does he turn his back upon life, but this crisis is temporary: the trilogy ends with Apu once again facing the future willingly, uncertain though it is.
It is this refusal to turn one's back, to stagnate, this refusal to renounce, that forms the backbone of this trilogy, and gives it a unity throughout its often disparate episodes. The central character of these films, Apu, always aspires towards becoming something greater, other than what he is. He wants to educate himself. This, in a western context, appears somewhat obvious, but, given Apu's background, education is something to strive towards, to struggle for; and Apu, despite great temptation, never abandons this struggle. It is not that he sees education as a means towards wealth or power: this is not, after all, anything so crude as a rags to riches story. But he does want to outgrow the village, to understand, and come to terms with life and the larger world outside. And in this he is, as is suggested by the title of the second film, aparajito, undefeated.
Over the three films, we see Apu progress from childhood to, perhaps, his early thirties. In this progression, we see his character develop through experience. This experience is often painful, and Apu is not always capable of rising above the pain. Perhaps no other film has depicted with such a terrible intensity the emotional pain of loss; but the vision, ultimately, is far from tragic. The last film - Apur Sansar - actually ends with a sense of joy. The joy is by no means unqualified: it has been hard won, and we, the audience, recognize its fragility. But it is, nonetheless, exhilarating.
Pather Panchali, the first of the trilogy, takes place some time early in the 20th century, and covers the years of Apu's early childhood. We see him born into a poverty-stricken family in rural Bengal. Later, we see Apu at play with his sister, Durga; we see him excited by the travelling players; we observe the uncomprehending wonder of Apu and Durga as they see a train for the first time. We are shown all those events of childhood that are apparently trivial, but which nonetheless shape the adult personality.
Apu's mother Sarbojaya (the superb Karuna Banerjee), is understandably harassed, trying to keep her family clothed and fed. The father, Harihar, is good-natured, other-worldly, and quite unpragmatic. With the family lives an aged aunt, Indir. She is a pathetic figure, helplessly eking out a meagre existence on the charity of those who barely have enough for themselves, and relying on Durga - with whom she has a close relationship - to supplement her inadequate diet with stolen fruit. Aware of her status, Indir generally speaks and acts in an ingratiating and conciliatory manner; but there is a repressed rage within her that bursts out on occasion. It is a magnificent performance from the aged actress Chunibala Devi. Sarbojaya has no patience with this old woman, and takes little trouble to hide the fact that she is unwanted. This is not out of deliberate cruelty, or indifference: it is simply that looking after her own immediate family is burden enough. The old woman, desparately trying to retain the last vestiges of her dignity, is forever storming out, attempting to find a roof to shelter under from some other relative. But she keeps returning: even a hostile roof, after all, is preferrable to none. It is a picture of desperation which moves the heart beyond mere pity. There is one particularly heart-rending scene where she sits in the dark singing of death in her old, cracked voice.
This first part of the trilogy ends in tragedy - Durga's death - and I know of nothing in cinema that delivers so powerful an emotional punch. It took me quite unawares at first viewing, and even on repeated viewings, it moves me like nothing else I have seen. Particularly unforgettable is Apu's final, quiet act of love for his dead sister, which really needs to be seen in its proper dramatic context to be appreciated. It is the end of a chapter in the family's life, and they move on. The sense of loss is overwhelming.
This is perhaps the best film ever made about childhood. I watch the entire trilogy about once every year, and wonder afresh at what cinema, at its best, is capable of achieving.
# Rated as one of the best 100 films of all time by the Time Magazine in 2005.
# This film was shot piecewise over five years; often, production was halted due to lack of funds. Eventually, the West Bengal Government provided enough money for Satyajit Ray to complete the film.