The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali; Aparajito; Apur Sansar Watch

The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali; Aparajito; Apur Sansar
Release Year : 2015

Two decades after its original negatives were burned in a fire, Satyajit Ray’s breathtaking milestone of world cinema rises from the ashes in a meticulously reconstructed new 4K restoration. The Apu Trilogy brought India into the golden age of international art-house film, following one indelible character, a free-spirited child in rural Bengal who matures into an adolescent urban student and finally a sensitive man of the world. These delicate masterworks—Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)—based on two books by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee—were shot over the course of five years, and each stands on its own as a tender, visually radiant journey. They are among the most achingly beautiful, richly humane movies ever made—essential works for any film lover.

This trilogy is considered by critics around the globe to rank among the greatest achievements of Indian film, and it is established as one of the most historically important cinematic debuts. Pather Panchali won at least thirteen international prizes (including Best Human Document at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival), followed by eleven international prizes for Aparajito (including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival) and numerous other awards for Apur Sansar (including the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival). When Ray made Pather Panchali, he worked with a cast and crew most of whom had never been previously involved in film. Ray himself at the time of directing Pather Panchali had primarily worked in the advertising industry, although he had served as assistant director on Jean Renoir’s 1951 film The River. From this foundation, Ray went on to create other highly acclaimed films, like Charulata, Mahanagar, and Aranyer Dinratri, and his international success energised other Bengal filmmakers like Mrinal Sen andRitwik Ghatak.

This extract from Youth, by South African author J. M. Coetzee, talks of the music in the Apu trilogy, which is based on Indian classical music:

At the Everyman Cinema there is a season of Satyajit Ray. He watches the Apu trilogy on successive nights in a state of rapt absorption. In Apu’s bitter, trapped mother, his engaging, feckless father he recognizes, with a pang of guilt, his own parents. But it is the music above all that grips him, dizzyingly complex interplays between drums and stringed instruments, long arias on the flute whose scale or mode – he does not know enough about music theory to be sure which – catches at his heart, sending him into a mood of sensual melancholy that last long after the film has ended.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Pather Panchali has a 97% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 38 reviews and in 2009 was included in its list of top 100 foreign films. Aparajito has a 94% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 16 reviews, and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) has a 100% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 22 reviews. This makesThe Apu Trilogy one of the highest-rated film trilogies of all time (97%, 94%, 100%), along with the Toy Story trilogy (100%, 100%, 99%), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (91%, 96%, 93%), the original Star Wars trilogy (94%, 97%, 78%), and the Before Trilogy (100%, 95%, 98%).

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