Review: Pather Panchali (1955)

Apu, the protagonist in Pather Panchali (1955)

I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it. It is the kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river.”

Akira Kurosawa on Pather Panchali

Pather Panchali, a beautiful and touching film directed by Satyajt Ray, India’s greatest director. Ray was honored by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences in 1992.

Set in 1920s India, Pather Panchali , depicts the life of the Kumaraj family, struggling to make ends meet as modernity encroaches on their rural village life. The story mostly centers around the relationship between the young boy Apu and his sometimes rebellious older sister Durga. They often watch the trains, a symbol for hope and change, pass through their village.

The family endures an incredibly difficult period when the father, Harihar, must leave to find work. Sarbajaya struggles to keep her family together, but illness and a monsoon only add to their troubles.

Pather Panchali is a gorgeous, cinematic feat and a wonderful viewing experience. Director Ray delves into the common beliefs of family and love as well as the harsh reality and little opportunity of rural India. Pather Panchali is a minamilistic and understated picture, making twice as impactful.

I should mention how I stumbled across this movie. My friend Asha was assigned to watch it for her Modern Indian Fiction class and needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Updated October 11, 2010

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