PATHER PANCHALI (U)
Director. Satyajit Ray. Starring: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Uma Das Gupta. India 1955. 115 mins. Bengali with English subtitles.
It’s fifty years since the late, great Bengali writer-director Satyajit Ray made his debut with this, the first and finest instalment of his ground-breaking APU TRILOGY. Village life is shown through the eyes of young Apu, his sister Durga, their parents and ancient grandma, and the film is inflected by a marvellous use of motifs (trains beckoning to another, industrialised urban world, water as a symbol of cyclical regeneration) to turn a simple rites-of-passage story into pure poetry.
A hymn to curiosity, courage and conscience, it introduces Apu as an opening eye, innocent of adult anxieties but alert to adventure and, finally, moral discovery. Ravi Shankar’s music is great too. A masterpiece, inarguably.
Extracts taken from Time Out Film Guide
‘This classic from 1955 is the extraordinary result of director Satyajit Ray and cinematographer Subrata Mitra being utterly new to their craft, yet demonstrating a miraculous gift for lighting scenes, handling non-professional actors, composing wonderful close-ups and intimate moments, and allowing narrative to flow in the most unforced way … a luminous, transcendental masterpiece.’
Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian