With the release of Satyajit Ray’s debut, an eloquent, important new cinematic voice made itself heard all over the world. A depiction of rural Bengali life in a style inspired by Italian neorealism, this naturalistic but poetic evocation follows a number of years in the life of an Indian family.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
Each frame in the film reflects a seemingly shared state of mind of the very young and the very old—innocence that grabs a hold, understanding that doesn’t make too much of itself. Long stretches of wordlessness—as when the two children are trailed by a trotting dog, their mini-convoy reflected upside down in a river—create an environment in which the characters are not contriving anything. They live. They do. They are.
A more pensive work than The Big City, it is the best distillation of Ray’s spirit and essence as a filmmaker. Beginning what became known as the Apu trilogy, this poetic and touching film introduces our young protagonist, Apu, in a delightful coming-of-age story set in a Bengali village in the 1920s.
Pather Panchali is generally a story of the loss of innocence, but Ray doesn’t structure the scene as a mere sucker punch to the glee and wonder that precedes it. Instead, he places the tragic with the idyllic to grapple with the contradictory nature of life, never ceding fully to any one emotion to better study natural responses to multiple stimuli.
Ray's imagery is so rich and moving that you instantly get sucked into this hypnotic film that not only captured the emotions of the characters perfectly but also the emotions of the landscape and with very few words, letting the images speak for themselves, intensified by the brilliant use of music in this picture. Pure cinematic beauty.
The directing debut of the great Satyajit Ray---one of the most profoundly moving films about childhood. Another sign that sometimes there is no need for much dialogue to bring us into the lives of characters.
Every time there's hope, it's followed by tragedy. And yet, it never feels like tragedy porn, as the film balances the two emotions in parallel, rarely over-emphasizing one above the other. It's less Song of the Little Road and more Symphony of Life.
Just had the opportunity to see the new 4K restoration in a movie theater. Revelatory. I have never been a full-on Satyajit Ray convert and have not seen Pather Panchali since the late 90s. It always struck me as something naked and simple, almost primitivist. Which is wrong. Totally backwards, in fact. The level of sophistication in terms of narrative, blocking, camera positioning, and the use of actors is stunning.
Shares much of its DNA with the Italian neorealism of The Bicycle Thieves: small ripples having devastating effects in the lives of proud, desperate people. It may be the first part in Apu's trilogy, but really this is Sarbojaya's story, focusing on her gritted determination, and her bitterness at the cards that life has dealt her. (4.5)
Re-rating this, since the new restoration on the big screen makes all the difference over a fuzzy video tape. Beautiful, heartfelt, elliptical—more stunning shots than you can count, and the ways it chooses to show (or not show) vital plot points may be its biggest breakthrough. I still think there's something to the criticism that it's constructed too loosely; even beauty can be numbing. But you won't forget it.
Fantastic. Pather Panchali is full of fleeting moments of child-like wonder and heartbreaking tragedy. Apu is one of the better child characters you will ever find on film. This is a true masterwork of social realism.
Beautiful, quiet, sublime masterwork from Satyajit Ray. I loved the mood of this film, it was quite sad but at times filled with wonder and beauty. The acting was unreal, as was the cinematography. Despite its story feeling fairly simple (I mean that as a compliment) it still feels grand in scope. I'm excited to watch the other two in the trilogy.