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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.
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 »
When the movie opens, a woman is recalling the events that molded her perspective on the world. Years ago, her husband, a wealthy Western-educated landowner, challenged tradition by ... See full summary »
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
"Panther Panchali" is the first film from independent India to attract major international critical attention. It not only won India's "National Film Award for Best Feature Film" in 1955; but, also, the "Best Human Document" award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, and several other awards and accolades. 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 »
Didi, have you ever seen a train?
You know where the tracks are? Where?
Past the big meadow and beyond the rice fields.
Shall we go one day?
See more »
"Pather Panchali", Satyajit Ray's debut film about life in a Bengali village, was the first movie from India to gain wide recognition and acclaim in the west. It is an affecting story of a rural family struggling to deal with poverty and tragedy in their ancestral home. Ray adapted the script from Bibhuti Bihushaw Banerjee's semi-autobiographical novel of the same title and retells it with natural beauty and a quiet perspective. The filmmaker, who came from a literary and artistic background(He was a product of the Indian Renaissance) was interested in the contemporary problems of his country-and he shared with the Neorealist films from Italy- a simple and direct approach to making movies. Ray created ordinary scenes that were incredibly life-like. His films contained very few strains of artifice. He believed that the raw material of cinema was life itself. Ray generally concentrated on small subjects and ordinary people. He favored using non-actors and shooting on location to heighten the realism. He made films in his own style; dignified and subtle; sincere and with a conscience. In "Pather Panchali" (Song of the Little Road") Ray makes superb use of his milieu. The viewer immediately feels the cramped conditions of the families' decaying house and the open-air confines of the surrounding forest. When Ray sends his camera beyond the village, the observer can sense the allure and freedom of the vast fields that spring immodestly from a thin, winding trail. Rays' was a cinema of thought and feeling, in which emotion was deliberately restrained because it is so strong. This restraint adds to the psychological intensity in his work. Nearly all of his films are marked by this remarkable depth of feeling. "Pather Panchali", the first installment of the Apu Trilogy("Aparajito" and "The World of Apu" would follow) depicts a young boy (Apu) exploring his ever-expanding universe with a growing sense of wonder. Ray excelled at showing how children and adolescents confront mystery and joy; sadness and death. The director shows Apu's burgeoning awareness with a masterful use of the long shot. High-angled, distant shots track Apu and his older sister Durga, as they run spiritedly through white-kashed fields. This sense of discovery gives the film it's emotional power. The director's main subject was India-it's customs and culture. It's conflicts between the traditional way of life and the impact and influence of the West. He tried arduously to capture this synthesis between western ideas and traditional Hindu values. His concern for human problems and not issues of national politics gave his films universal appeal. "Pather Panchali" delineates the small joys and acute sorrows of a poor Indian family. It is an endearing testament that poverty does not nullify love and that even the most afflicted person can find some modest pleasures in their world. The film's indigenous sound track is vital to Ray's story of ancestral limitations. Twanging ektaras, wailing tarshehnais and six-stringed sitars resound liberally throughout the movie. It would be difficult to imagine "Pather Panchali" without it's memorable score. Satyajit Ray was an unpretentious filmmaker. He was genuinely uninterested in commercial considerations. His films were life-affirming, authentic and honest; gentle and poetic- truthful observations on human behavior that employed simple but strong themes. Ray's unadorned style of film-making was intimate, probing, and revealing. (Possible spoiler) The final scene shows the grieving family leaving their home in an ox-driven carriage to begin a new life. A trailing camera in medium close-up captures a compelling mixture of emotions on their faces. Expressions of pain and resolution; hope and despair; the future and the past. A seemingly simple yet unmistakably powerful scene that typifies Satyajit Ray's profound cinema. A cinema of gentle but deep observation, understanding and unabashed love of the human race.
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