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    Kam is offline
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    Dec 2001
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    The Apu Trilogy Part1

    Pather Panchali (Song for the Road / Lament of the Path)

    For anyone a fan of foreign films and havent tapped into the genius of Satyajit Ray, i figured i'd review his first works, the Apu trilogy (pather panchali, aparajito, the world of apu). I had only seen the first one a long time ago, and only recently was able to find the whole trilogy on ebay. these may be tough finds and i doubt any blockbuster in the world carries them (would be great to be proven wrong) but mabye netflix or a small mom/pop video place might have it. if you can find them, highly reccomended viewing.

    To give you some background on Ray in case you havent heard of him. To coin someone far greater than me, in the words of Kurosawa: "To have not seen the films of Ray is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun." He's been awarded the French Legion of Honor in Film, and the only person (i believe, might be wrong here) to receive the award outside of france. Mitterand travelled to india to personally bestow the honor on ray at his own house. He also received the lifetime achievement oscar. Along with Kurosawa, was heavily influential on the major directors today (spielberg, scorcese, coppola, kubrick, lucas, etc).

    i hadn't seen this movie since i was a kid and one of the previous posts (i think my obscure top 5 one) made me remember it. it took forever to find it on ebay, but finally got the whole trilogy and sat down to watch part one. it not only holds up to my memory of it, but holds up watching it in current times in spite of being 50 years old and set in a foreign country. it's universal in its human drama.

    a few caveats, this is definitely NOT a movie to watch if you are not a fan of foreign films, simple films, basic human drama. if you're in the dukes of hazard, michael bay horror remakes, mtv a.d.d style films, and adam sandler is a greatest actor ever type camp, then it's probably not your kind of movie (but i'd still say check it out and decide for yourself). it's a very simple story revolving around one families struggles in a rural village (with subtitles, spoken bengali). it is very slow developing and has a lot of sweet, quiet moments. so beware, will engage your heart more than anything else, not a lot of action going on here.

    the father is a poet/accountant struggling to make money and find time to write, the mother cares for the household and tries to tell her daughter not to steal fruit from the orchard the family used to own, but has since been sold/taken over by their relatives (who aren't too friendly) and an old aunt that fights with the mom constantly over anything and nothing. the little boy Apu is born into the family and begins school and just observes the life around him. the father is forced to leave the village and find work elsewhere and while he is gone, something happens to shock the whole family.

    that's the set up. nothing more, nothing fancy, no gimicks. just simple storytelling at its best.

    it's just an incredibly touching, moving, simple story about this family's struggles that is incredibly engaging and draws you in. there is comedy, struggles, and tragedy, and ray just crafts it all together so seemlessly. once apu is born, the perspective shifts slightly to his POV, while prior it seems to focus more on the mother's POV.

    the soundtrack by ravi shankar is awesome and is essential to the emotional keys. the cinematography in it has some pretty sublime moments. its shot full frame 4:3 and at times you can see the limitations of what he's working with (watch for some of the pan/tilts and they can be a little shaky) vs. the shots of the monsoon and the rain which are incredibly beautiful. he brings the region to life, in spite of the fact that its shot in B/W, you can feel the vibrancy of the area. ray also used mainly non-actors and friends in the cast and each performance (especially the mom's, the daughter's and little Apu himself) are really well done. there is a storyline that occupies the first half of the film involving an incredibly old aunt that sets up the second half and is incredibly touching and sad. i just can't reccomend it enough.

    watching it i saw how much of an influence spielberg especially must have taken from this type/style of work. kubrick as well i would guess given ray's use of incredibly long single shots and mise-en-scene (sp?) work.

    not much else to say other than to please find and watch it if you can. some great stories you just have to watch and enjoy yourself. especially in this time of crap, remakes, sequels, and nothing original, it was refreshing to go back 50 years for the simplest of setups and find an engaging, heartfelt story about a family.

    (watching part 2 this week will post soon!)
    Last edited by Kam; 08-17-2005 at 07:13 AM.

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