The World of Apu

Critics Consensus

Achingly poignant, beautifully shot, and evocatively atmospheric, The World of Apu closes out Satyajit Ray's classic trilogy on a high note.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

95%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,878
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Movie Info

Apu is a young bureaucrat who takes time off work to attend his cousins wedding. The marriage has been arranged some fifteen years earlier, but the bridegroom throws a fit and refuses to marry the girl. The girl would forever remain a spinster according to Indian custom, so the kind hearted Apu marries the girl to save her from a life of loneliness and disgrace.

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Critic Reviews for The World of Apu

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (1)

  • The World of Apu completes, in alternations of suffering and joy, one of the most vital and abundant movies ever made.

    Aug 14, 2012 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Great acting, remarkable use of locations, a humanistic ethos that's both wise and wary.

    Aug 7, 2012 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Director Satyajit Ray, with greater technical means, makes the truth of his relationships and the revelation of India the main trumps of the film. Wit, tenderness and intrinsic human revelations illuminate this unusual film.

    Oct 24, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Though the rhythm of the storytelling is choppy and Apu himself seems incompletely realized, the first appearance of the remarkable Sharmila Tagore as his well-to-do bride upgrades the film's middle section.

    Oct 24, 2007 | Full Review…
  • An impressive capstone is put not only upon a touching human drama but also upon the development of a genuine artist's skill.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • What we sense all through The Apu Trilogy is a different kind of life than we are used to.

    Mar 21, 2001 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The World of Apu

  • Feb 06, 2014
    "The World of Apu" is a very hard movie to get into, due to it's drab feel and slow-moving storytelling, but it's a fantastic story that everyone really needs to see, because the material covered needs to be in the mids of everyone to learn life lessons before they make the mistakes themselves and ruin their lives. Once this film feels like it's back on a happy track, it falls apart in a shocking twist. I wouldn't go as far as to calling it a great classic, but it is very well told and it is an essential film on critics lists after doing some research after my viewing of this picture. It's pretty well-written and well-acted. A very solid true-to-life picture.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jun 29, 2013
    Man, nobody has more miserable life than poor Apu.
    Cita W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2010
    As I said and before one picture says thousand words?.. It?s hard for me to say anything because my mind is full of wonderful images and my heart full of strong feelings. This movie is brilliant?. The first thing that captures my senses was the music. It was incredible and gave soul to the movie. The combination of the movie's score and Ray's images is magical. I will never forget it. The leading pear was not experienced actors but acting so excellent. I was afraid to take my eyes from the film because I thought that I will miss the emotions. The dialog is minimalist but enchanting. The letters from Aparna to Apu were so simple but captures love in all its glory, desire, concern and trust. The movie is full of loneliness and heartbreak. It makes you realize just how fragile human relationships are, how easily people die, grieve and yearn for love and redemption. It is a touch to perfection??
    Arianeta L Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2009
    <i>"This is my world, the world of Apu, the jobless former student who is drifting through life as a writer."</i> <CENTER><u>APUR SANSAR (1959)</u></CENTER> <b>Director:</b> Satyajit Ray <b>Country:</b> India <b>Genre:</b> Drama <b>Length:</b> 105 minutes <CENTER><a href="http://s712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/?action=view¤t=ApurSansar.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/ApurSansar.jpg" border="0" alt="Satyajit Ray,Soumitra Chatterjee,India,Apu Trilogy,Apur Sansar,The World of Apu"></a></CENTER> <i>Pather Panchali</i> (1955), <i>Aparajito</i> (1956) and <i>Apur Sansar</i> (1959): the song of a seemingly little road to walk, the unvanquished, and the world of a soon-to-be existentialist protagonist. And all of them form one of the three best trilogies ever committed to celluloid: The Apu Trilogy, directed by Satyajit Ray. Considered among international and Indian film critics as the absolute Indian masterpiece, it is also the result of the work of a true cinema master. Satyajit Ray raised not only his popularity, but also Indian cinema out of the blue and achieved international attention since the release of <i>Pather Panchali</i>. Despite the great neorealist influence of Italy (mainly from Vittorio de Sica), it is one of the strongest and most memorably powerful and heartbreaking movies ever made around the world. Rivaling the humanism of Masaki Kobayashi's <i>Ningen no Joken</i> (1959-1961) and the universality of other foreign masterworks, Ray's trilogy started slowly to be accepted and welcomed with open arms in several countries throughout the decades and is now referenced as the director's best effort. A single review will not suffice, since this absolutely complete and appealing work mirrors life itself: its impactful moments, key events, traumatic incidents, birth, happiness, sadness, disappointment, departures, growth, maturity and independence are few of the aspects developed in this beautifully orchestrated opera of conglomerated sensations. In <i>Pather Panchali</i> and <i>Aparajito</i>, the films open with the year of 1327 according to the Bengali calendar, which means 1920 according to the Gregorian calendar. Apu is born to a poor Brahmin family in a village located in Bengal. Living under extremely deplorable life conditions, each one of the family members faces several life problems individually and some others collectively. Apu is an innocent character who has a fantasized vision of the world, finding magic wherever he goes and being astonished by the natural wonders of the earth and by the extensive cultural diversity around the world. Durga is the problematic sister that won't stop stealing guavas from the orchards of the neighbors. Harihar is a poet and a priest who can't sop encountering difficulties in the process of finding a stable job and affording his family the necessary economy for their subsistence. Sarbojaya is the extremely caring and maternal, yet disciplinary and objective mother. <i>Aparajito</i> deals with the family living in Benares for some time after they had to surpass a very tragic incident and then moving in with Sarbojaya's uncle. Once there, Apu's curiosity for acquiring knowledge about the world compels his mother to subscribe him to a school in Calcutta, where his abilities and constant studying offer him a remarkable status of recognition. Nevertheless, the mother faces a huge emotional challenge when she must accept the fact that her little bird must leave the nest. After a huge separation between Apu and Sarbojaya, a terrible tragedy occurs, and a new stage in the character's maturity begins. <i>Apur Sansar</i> concludes the story in an astonishing way. Apu is now a jobless ex-student who lives a life of independence and solitude. While he is dreaming of a successful future as a writer and being largely inspired for writing an autobiographic novel, an old friend from school finds him and invites him to assist to a village wedding. Unfortunately, it is discovered that the bridegroom turned out to be insane, thus causing the wedding to be canceled. Because of the region's superstition, it is believed that the bride will be subject to a curse. Out of sadness and desperation, Apu's best friend convinces Apu to become the bridegroom. Since he makes this remarkable decision, he embarks on a journey of meaningful self-discovery, causing his vision towards the world to be significantly distorted, culminating in one of the best endings ever filmed. Director Satyajit Ray was nominated for a Golden Palm for his film <i>Pather Panchali</i>, which lost against Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle for their documentary <i>Le Monde du Silence</i> (1956), and won the OCIC Award - Special Mention and another Award for Best Human Document at the Cannes Film Festival of 1956. He also won two Golden Gate Awards for Best Director and Best Picture at the San Francisco International Film Festival of 1957. In 1967, he won a Kinema Junpo Award for Best Foreign Language Film. When <i>Aparajito</i> was released, Satyajit Ray won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film festival of 1957 and another Golden Gate Award for Best Director at the San Francisco International Film Festival of 1958. Thanks to <i>Apur Sansar</i>, the director won the Sutherland Trophy at the British Film Institute Awards of 1959 and the film won an NBR Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the National Board of Review, USA the following year. In total, the trilogy gathered 4 BAFTA Film Award nominations, besides other 12 wins and one single nomination. Reportedly, Satyajit Ray was a great admirer of Vittorio de Sica's <i>Ladri di Biciclette</i> (1948), one of the best neorealist films ever made. Thus, its similarity with the plot of <i>Apur Sansar</i> is obvious and justifiable. However, the nature and atmosphere of the trilogy started to change with the style of the director. <i>Pather Panchali</i> has a strictly neorealist environment, yet not deviating from the portrayal of Indian poverty. Despite being a very simple film, it is the absolute best of the trilogy. It shows the poverty with no clichés or pretentious grandiloquence. Like a masterful and faithful, loyal-to-life documentary, it shows a world that is very distant from us, yet it irrevocably finds a place inside our hearts. The depictions of poverty may be overwhelmingly difficult to endure; however, it is completely compensated with an indescribable visual beauty and a strong hope in the progress of humanity, mirrored in the characters and, most specially, in Apu. <i>Pather Panchali</i> is mainly composed of solid performances by an inexperienced cast, facial expressions, character development and daily hardships that stick to the basic necessities of man: food, shelter and security. The inevitability of death was a necessary topic to be treated, but instead of bringing the protagonists to their doom, it makes them grow spiritually. It is clearly said during the first film: "What God decides is for the best". Their main hope relies in the father getting a job and being paid fairly since his payment is delayed sometimes three months. The previous paragraph may seem ultimately depressing but, as almost all masters of cinema have, Satyajit Ray adds a very innocent and peculiar humor. Tenderness can be found in the faults of Durga; Apu's innocence and ambition is a relieving source of comedy (especially in <i>Aparajito</i> before he becomes an adolescent); the simplicity and well-intentioned pretentiousness of the father is inevitably laughable; the auntie in the first film represents the character that is alienated from the family because of her lifestyle and behavioral attitude and that, ironically, supports the thievery of Durga since "she has good intentions and is having fun", a fact that always upsets the mother. The visual beauty is derived from a surprisingly skillful and visionary cinematography, being surprising because of the country and the conditions in which it was made. Before letting us enter into a more civilized environment, the only glimpse of industrialized technology we are offered in <i>Pather Panchali</i> is a train loudly running over the railroads located beyond the beautiful rice fields. Excitedly, Apu and Durga flee home so they can see the train closer, becoming the most extraordinary thing they have ever seen. Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay is the author of the novel that inspired the direction of the trilogy, and he developed the screenplay exclusively for the first film, a piece of text that allowed good performances to be originated. Although its simplicity was predominant, it had enough thought-provoking substance to make of <i>Pather Panchali</i> an unforgettable, landmark and memorable Indian masterpiece. It was the financial success and international recognition that <i>Pather Panchali</i> received the one that allowed <i>Aparajito</i> to exist. Satyajit Ray, with a more improved photography, a more precise editing and better performances, directed a sequel that was not supposed to be made. Not staying away from the nature and the inspiration of the original novel, he stuck to a neorealist tone. Nonetheless, the literally astonishing cinematography of the first 10 minutes has a strong emphasis on architectonic beauty and colonial wonders typical of Benares, focusing on the visual stillness of the inhabitants bathing in the waters of a common river while doves fly in the air above them. This is the new scenery that we will receive for the first third part of the film, until the real purpose of the subject matter is launched. Apu, as a maturing and growing character, will show an insatiable ambition and curiosity of acquiring knowledge about the world and every single meaningful object and cultural element it contains. From the lifestyle of Africa to the basic definitions of geography and classical samples of literature, the character is now subjected to an intellectualist perspective. Bandyopadhyay never aimed towards the depiction of a progressive India mirrored in the psychology of the protagonist through scholar learning, but Ray still portrays the same neorealist elements he showed in the previous film in order to strengthen the emotional relationship between Apu and his mother. Although Apu will not cease to be the protagonist, <i>Aparajito</i> builds, at some point, a structure that allows Sarbojaya to be the main focus of attention temporarily, bringing along one of the strongest universal emotions that can be found in every single culture: the mother-and-son relationship. She will face a huge emotional obstacle when Apu, now an adolescent of outstanding knowledge thanks to his dedicated learning of the English language as a tool for opening new opportunities, must separate ways with her. Seemingly, this was the instrument of the director for achieving a universal appeal, strengthening the fact that, regardless of the folkloric diversities and international habits, there are strictly human and merely emotional laws that follow the same pattern thanks to the rational sensibility of mankind. Apu, on the other hand, will learn the price of personal decisions and will be forced to surpass one of the greatest and most landmark events in his life in the end, almost offering an open ending. Satyajit Ray was being threatened by the fact that there was not enough material in order to warrant a third film. However, avid fans of such groundbreaking story were willing to wait patiently for the new project of Ray. What was meant to be one single film was magically expanded to the trilogy we know nowadays. Despite this, the director kept in mind the atmosphere and the humanistic intentions of Bandyopadhyay, who kept being credited as the author of the original epic. Just like the direction of Ray throughout the trilogy kept being technically developed, so did Apu, both reaching a higher state of maturity and psychological complexity. In <i>Apur Sansar</i>, we are strictly taken to the mind of a man that now calls himself Apurba Roy perhaps with the purpose of assuming a more serious and independent identity. Even so, he is still Apu. Just like the direction and the main character, we are now transported to an extremely different scenario: a city of financial order and industrial features. The more the plot advances, the more our tears want to come out of our eyes when we remember the life conditions and story of <i>Pather Panchali</i>, culminating in an increasing nostalgia for the audiences. Suggesting that the nature of the story has not taken a drastically different course, the director makes Apu to start to reflect on the mistakes of his past and is inspired to construct an autobiographical book. After he is impulsively driven by solitude and decides to embark on his journey, abandoning all responsibilities (including his son), Ray grabs a much more Eastern influence, highly resembling Japanese filmmaking. The cinematography keeps showing an inspirational improvement and the musical score is still heartwarmingly joyful, but mysticism is added to the formula. Existentialist philosophy is now contemplated by Apu, who now owns a very Christian physical appearance that could be said it references Luis Buñuel's <i>Nazarín</i> (1959). Despite how different and alienated the first half of the film feels, the second one is very rewarding, achieving the audacious task of adopting an effective filmmaking style that contrasts considerably the neorealist tone shown in the past and that symbolizes rebirth. A new beginning has been propelled. Materialism and forced love is not the solution. Instead, we are offered a huge quantity of moral lessons of vast appeal. Human beings are still human begins, and man cannot embark on a journey of independence and successful relationships without prior self-acceptance and complete spiritual and religious awareness. Basically, there is nothing left to say. Being an almost-never paralleled experience, this is one of the most complete and multilayered stories ever told. The huge transition it suffers from neorealism to civilization and Eastern philosophy is as transcendental just as it is meaningful. Satyajit Ray is not only the master of spiritual strength, but also of the extermination of internal doom and earthly banalities. With an astounding technical progress and a great capacity of finding a huge place inside the hearts of international audiences, The Apu Trilogy is composed by transitioning layers with different purposes, all of them leading to a single, final conclusion. It must not be seen, it must be lived. Ray is mirroring his personal experiences since <i>Aparajito</i> just like the character reflects on his past. Stories within plots within stories within inspirations of life. We will be mirrored as well. 100/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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