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A well-off family is paid an unexpected, and rather unwanted, visit by a man claiming to be the woman's long-lost uncle. The initial suspicion with which they greet the man slowly dissolves... See full summary »
A group of Calcutta city slickers, including the well-off Asim (Soumitra Chatterjee), the meek Sanjoy (Subhendu Chatterjee) and the brutish Hari (Samit Bhanja), head out for a weekend in the wilderness.
The story of a young boy, Apu, and life in his small Indian village. His parents are quite poor - his father Harihar, a writer and poet, gave away the family's fruit orchard to settle his brother's debts. His sister Durga and an old aunt also still lives with them. His mother Sarbojaya bears the brunt of the family's situation. She scrapes by and sells her personal possessions to put food on the table and has to bear the taunts of her neighbors as Durga is always stealing fruit from their orchard. Things get worse when Harihar disappears for five months and Durga falls ill. Even after Harihar returns, the family is left with few alternatives. Written by
Cinematographer Subrata Mitra was originally a stills photographer whose work Ray had admired. Mitra learned his craft on photographing for films by borrowing a 16mm camera. See more »
Although the film is set in early 20th Century rural India (a time in which public health campaigns presumably did not exist), when Apu and Durga are shown hiding in the fields waiting to catch a glimpse of the train, a vaccination mark is clearly visible on the right arm of Uma Das Gupta, who portrays Durga. See more »
This is my home now too. But just look at it. It's like living in the jungle. Jackals prowling around as soon as night falls. No neighbors to sit and talk to. When you're not here, I'm terribly uneasy. But you wouldn't understand. You eat and sleep and go about your work, unconcerned whether you're paid or not. I had lots of dreams too. All the things I wanted to do...
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Absolutely Perfect. One of the best films ever made. 10/10
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.
I could not say anything bad about this film. But there is one thing I would like to see: a DVD version of this film, and indeed of each of the films of the Apu Trilogy, and only Criterion could do this effectively, which is kind of disappointing, since I know a major film company already owns its rights and would probably never give them up without huge pay; a DVD version with scholarly commentary. Hindu symbology is present in a large quantity in this film, along with several Hindi ceremonies. Of course, I loved seeing this. I am not completely unfamiliar with the culture, so I was able to catch a little, but there is so much I don't know. A commentary track on a DVD would help me understand the film better, and thus love it even more.
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