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Carl Theodor Dreyer
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The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
Sometime in the early years of the century, a boy, Apu, is born to a poor Brahmin family in a village in Bengal. The father, a poet and priest, cannot earn enough to keep his family going. Apu's sister, Durga, is forever stealing guavas from the neighbour's orchards. All these add to the daily struggles of the mother's life, notwithstanding her constant bickering with old aunt who lives with the family. Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film is certainly a masterpiece. The film is overwhelmingly real and the key element in the movie is the maintenance of this realism. The characters are so true to the ethnic rural-sixties Indian existence that one is compelled to wonder if the film was captured through surveillance cameras.
Pather Panchali, released in 1955, is the first film of director Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy. The film is a serene and beautiful depiction of a little boy's childhood in the Indian countryside in the 1950s.The film was made on a shoestring budget by a hitherto unknown director. Apart from a seventy-year-old woman who made her name in the 1930s on the stage, none of the cast had ever acted before and many had been plucked from the Indian rurality. In contrast Satyajit Ray completed the trilogy on the behest of the Indian Prime Minister, pointing to the film's cultural impact.
It's a quiet, simple tale, centering on the life of a small family living in a rural village in Bengal. The father, Harihar (Kanu Bannerjee), is a priest and poet who cares more about his writing and spiritual welfare than obtaining wages he is owed. The mother, Sarbojaya (Karuna Bannerjee), worries that her husband's financial laxity will leave her without enough food for her two children, daughter Durga (Uma Das Gupta) and son Apu (Subir Bannerjee). Harihar's family often lives on the edge of poverty, coping with the unkind taunts of their neighbors, the burden of caring for an aging aunt (Chunibala Devi), and the terrible aftermath of a natural catastrophe.
Most of what transpires is shown through the eyes of either Sarbojaya or Durga, and, as a result, we identify most closely with these two. Harihar is absent for more than half of the movie, and, before the penultimate scene, Apu is a mere witness to events, rather than a participant. Until the closing moments, we don't get a sense of the young boy as a fully formed individual, since he's always in someone else's shadow.
The simple story of the Bengali family will definitely stay in my heart for a long time to come. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for?........
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