Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Apu Trilogy (1955- 1959)

Directed by Satyajit Ray. Starring Soumitra Chaterjee, Sharmila Tagore, and Karuna Banerji.

This is one of two trilogies I've included on this list, and this one tells the story of a boy named Apu who comes from a poor family, and must find his place in the world as he becomes an adult. Ray, who had never even shot a single frame of a film before starting on the first Apu film, PATHER PANCHALI, tells the story in an unhurried manner, not merely focusing on Apu himself but also on the people around him, as his father finds a job in the city, as his mother struggles over whether to allow Apu to go away to school, and most unexpectedly as a schoolmate takes Apu with him to a wedding and Apu finds himself thrust into the role of the groom. The films are at times quite bleak, as most of the people who Apu loves die, but Ray directs the film with a startling blend of realism and beauty. The films don't fall back on cheap contrivances, but are told in an unadorned and lovely way, like old family stories.

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