Apu Trilogy (1954)



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"Pather Panchali": This acclaimed debut by Satyajit Ray is the first part of a trilogy of poetic, lyrical works. A boy named Apu is born to a poor but proud Brahmin family. His loving older sister Durga is a sweet girl but has formed the bad habit of stealing fruit from an aunt's orchard, much to her mother's dismay. Their father Harihar, a poet and lay priest, finds a treasury job that will bring the family steady income for the first time in a while. For a brief period afterward, their mother, Sarbajaya, manages to make ends meet, and the children -- left to their own devices -- run freely. But when Harihar loses his position, he leaves his family with depleted resources to search elsewhere for work. In his absence, their condition deteriorates. Months later, Harihar returns to face the tragedy that forces them to leave their ancestral home. "Aparajito": This film is the second installment to Satyajit Ray's celebrated "Apu Trilogy." Devastated by a family tragedy, 10-year-old Apu and his parents move to the sacred city of Benares, hoping to build a new life. In Benares, Apu's father Harihar ekes out a subsistence living as a priest reciting religious scripture. Though his family is poor and his mother burdened with cares, Apu runs freely, ignorant of his parents' concerns. One day, Harihar returns from work faint and feverish. Shortly thereafter, he dies. Widowed, Sarbajaya, realizes she has no recourse but to find work. As a cook for a wealthy Bengali family, she makes a decent living for herself and a growing Apu. But she leaves that position to live with her uncle in his village of Bengal. There, Apu excels in school and wins a scholarship to study at a college in Calcutta. Though pleased with her son's academic success, Sarbajaya's health is now failing and she needs him at home. Thus begins the clash between a proud woman and her headstrong son. "The World of Apu": This film concludes Satyajit Ray's renowned "Apu Trilogy." Living alone in a tenement above the railway, a grown Apu passes his days reading poetry, playing his wooden flute and looking for work. Though poor and without family, he remains hopeful about his future. An unexpected reunion with childhood crony Pulu, provides a respite from his lonely routine. Pulu invites Apu to attend his cousin Aparna's wedding. Moments before the ceremony, they discover the bridegroom's mentally ill and the marriage cannot proceed as planned. So Pulu -- desperate to marry his cousin, lest she be cursed for life -- asks Apu to take the groom's place. Feeling betrayed and outraged, Apu refuses but later, out of friendship, changes his mind. Apu and his delicate bride Aparna slowly fall in love, spending almost every moment together. But marital bliss is short lived, as a terrible tragedy awaits the newfound lovers.
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News & Interviews for Apu Trilogy

Critic Reviews for Apu Trilogy

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (5)

This is in many ways essential film education. Yet the consumption of it is never a chore.

Full Review… | July 30, 2015
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Adapting a pair of novels about a Bengali boy from a poor village and his maturation as a student and writer, then as a husband and father, Ray established himself on the world stage as a master of eloquent images, storytelling grace and empathy ...

Full Review… | May 28, 2015
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The Apu Trilogy is a masterpiece no cinephile can afford to miss.

Full Review… | May 21, 2015
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

This is Ray growing as a film artist, becoming as confident with the frame as he had been on paper. Apu grows with him.

Full Review… | May 6, 2015
AV Club
Top Critic

The family love I saw onscreen was instantly recognizable and comfortingly permanent, unaltered by death. For me, these were the right movies at just the right time.

Full Review… | May 5, 2015
Village Voice
Top Critic

The opportunity to see these timeless works of art on the big screen is one that should not be missed.

Full Review… | June 18, 2015

Audience Reviews for Apu Trilogy

[center][b][size=3][font=Times New Roman]Satyajit Ray comes to Palo Alto[/font][/size][/b] [/center] [center][b][font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font][/b] [/center] [center][center][font=Times New Roman][b][size=3][/size][/b][/font] [/center][/center] [center][center][font=Times New Roman][b][size=3]-[/size] [/b][b][size=3]Kim Singh[/size][/b][/font][/center][/center] [center][b][font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font][/b] [/center] [center][b][font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font][/b][font=Times New Roman][size=3]The leading film critics had voted Ray as the best film director of the past 50 years. Ray’s footprint across the scene of world cinema looks like a Godzilla footprint.[/size][/font] [/center] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]It is a pity the present day cinema buffs know not about Ray, Fellini and Kurosawa. They are so very enamored by the present gurus such as Tarantino, Spielberg and Lucas that they ignore the real masters of world cinema at their peril.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]Thanks to the wonderful institution that Stanford Theater has become to remind the Bay Area that there was a Master. There was a time when one man could generate such masterpieces. Not one gem but over 30 of them. And yes the films are subtitled. And no they are not in Italian or French, but a language most Americans may not be familiar with, [b][i]Bengali[/i][/b].[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]The festival runs through Christmas, ensuring that film buffs get their fill of Satyajit Ray’s creative genius. [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]The festival began with the famous Apu trilogy. These films trace the life a small Bengali boy Apu from his birth in a village to his adulthood and becoming a father. The famed sitarist Ravi Shankar has scored all the three films. Ray’s black and white films coupled by exquisite art direction by his partner Bansi Chandragupta, scour your heart until you are left breathless. You feel the pain as the son leaves the village and his Mother. You feel every billowing gush of the howling wind, when Apu’s sister Durga lies in bed, gasping for her last breath. The sheer joy that Apu and his sister Durga experience when they race to welcome the distant train, runs through your hair as the breeze across the fields. The black and white photography of Subrata Mitra, the painstaking attention detail of the Master Ray, the marvelous acting Ray manages to coax out of an amateur cast, except for the thespian Aparna Devi who plays the grandmother.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3][/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]Ray draws this none too subtle portrait of the ugly city and the fresh and rejuvenating countryside. The train links the two worlds. The train that captures the young Apu’s attention is the vehicle that draws him away from the world and people he loves. It is again the train that Apu nearly consigns himself to in despair. Ray uses the train in subsequent films too, just as he uses trees. When Apu loses his Mother, he collapses at the foot of an old gnarled tree with its copious roots well exposed. He sobs inconsolably, at the roots of the tree, bemoaning the fact that he has lost all the members of his family tree, and he needs to carry on. When Apu is bereft of hope to live, and his son has ignored his overtures, he sits in front of a defoliated tree. The family worships the sacred tulsi plant that they have in their courtyard. The grandmother drinks water and always saves some to water the plant with. Again during the storm it is the tree that crashes and demolishes the home. It is nature perhaps chiding the father for having stayed away too long and having ignored the family.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3][/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]Sharmila Tagore is presented in [b][i]Apu Sansar[/i][/b] as a flower that has just evolved from the bud. She is a beauty not yet polished and not at her full bloom. As she cries at the window of her husband’s grubby room, the hair on her arms remind one of the adolescent girl who has been married off by her anxious parents, lest she bring bad luck and be cursed.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3][/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]In [b][i]Days and Nights in the forest,[/i][/b] Sharmila is no longer the demure bride. She is now a city woman, well versed with how to break the confidence of a smug Soumitra Chaterjee. She is now not embalmed in a nine-yard saree, but wears slacks and swings her hips provocatively as she climbs the stairs ahead of Soumitra.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]Ray has this knack of spinning webs of enchantment, when he shows a couple alone with each other. Ray gets beneath the skins of his characters and tugs at your heartstrings with just a glance, or a shot of the lotus leaves on the pond billowing in the gusty wind. Then of course there is the marvelous score by Ravi Shankar that tears your innards to shreds. You are left naked, your lower lip quivering, as young son, stands a distance from his Father, not rushing into his arms. The whole world seems to be prodding the boy to make the move. It is a gaping wound; the entire universe feels the pain of. Ray the maestro has once again, made the pain of life universal. The language is no longer a limitation. The fact that all his films were made in Bengal does not matter any more. The medicine that the mother grinds and licks off the plate is a practice that is no longer alien to us in Palo Alto. The curious noises that the women make when the bride is getting married, is like an everyday occurrence. Martha Stewart did not do the setting for the honeymoon suite, but the large ornate bed bedecked with flowers and the large cushions in the center of the bed seem just right. [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]The groom is anxious to know what his best friend has told his bride about his pre-marital exploits. The love that matures between the recently wedded couple is so sweet and delectable that you can see the pain in his eyes when she leaves for her mother’s for the delivery. When he gets news about her death during childbirth, his sweet angelic face gets twisted into that of a gargoyle. The lighting and the black and white art direction, remind one of [b][i]The Cabinet of Dr. Caligary[/i][/b].[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]The class issue is never too far away form Ray’s handiwork. Right through the Apu trilogy, the plight of the poor priest and his family is contrasted with that of the rich [b][i]Zamindar[/i][/b]. But Ray points out that cruelty is not a prerogative of the rich. Even Apu’s mother can be cruel and nasty to the aged Aunt. She repeatedly throws her out of her home, until she finally dies out in the cold.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]In [b][i]Days and Nights in the forest[/i][/b], the city boys are clearly contrasted from the poor villagers they take advantage of. The servant gets beaten for a mistaken theft. The servant ultimately rebels and beats the city boy. [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3]Apu’s son is brought up as an orphan. His Mother died at childbirth. Apu has abandoned the boy for his first five years. It is not surprising, that the boy shoots birds for sport and dangles a dead bird, before a woman cooking and drops the bird in her stew. The boy has his humanity drummed out of him, by the lack of parental love or touch. The boy lies curled up in bed. Apu approaches the boy, but is unable to touch him. Unable to give him the love he craves for. Apu blames the boy for depriving him of his wife. Ray shows the tree bereft of leaves and Apu in front of it, confused. Yes this is the master Ray depicting life as we all know it and identify with.[/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font] [font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font]

Kim Singh
Kim Singh

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