30 July – 3 August, 2022
With the release in 1955 of Satyajit Ray’s debut, Pather Panchali, an eloquent and 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 of a number of years in the life of a family introduces us to both little Apu and, just as essentially, the women who will help shape him. His independent older sister, Durga; his harried mother, Sarbajaya, who, with her husband away, must hold the family together; and his kindly and mischievous elderly ‘auntie,’ Indir, are all vivid, multifaceted characters.
With resplendent photography informed by its young protagonist’s perpetual sense of discovery, Pather Panchali, which won an award for Best Human Document at Cannes Film Festival, is an immersive cinematic experience and a film of elemental power.
Why we love it: (GFT)
‘This brilliantly observed naturalistic drama captures so much of the truth of what a family is and how it works. The four members of this family are all clearly defined through the film as individuals with their own desires, motivations and frustrations – but they also are clearly a unit, together through life, even though not always physically. Ray shows us this just by observing the trials and joys of their life as they struggle to exist. The other thing I must note is the incredible performance of Karuna Banerjee as Sarbajaya, Apu’s mother. She was a theatre actor who didn’t think much of films, but her performance here is one for the ages. She shows what it is to be a mother – all the pain, love, joy and frustration – in ways that connect powerfully.’ – Paul Gallagher, Programme Manager
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