APARAJITO (1957) [Feature]

India (MIFF 1958 , Programme 32)
Director: Satyajit Ray

This is the second film of Satyajit Ray's trilogy which began with the remarkable Father Panchali, shown at last year's Festival. At the end of part one, Harihar, his wife Sarbojaya, and their son Apu, leave their Bengal village for the Holy City of Benares. Here Harihar scrapes a living by reading scriptures; when he dies, Sarbojaya first finds work with a rich landlord, but distressed by the menial position to which this reduces Apu, agrees to go and keep house for an old uncle, a priest, who begins training the child for the priesthood. Apu, however, persuades his mother to send him to school. Advancing into adolescence he overcomes his mother's reluctance to send him to tire university in Calcutta, where he works in the evening to support himself. New interests and the excitement of city life draw him away from the village and from his mother, with whom he finds little in common when he comes home for holidays. After he returns to Calcutta, her health begins to fail, and although she knows she is dying, she refuses to send for him as he is preparing for his examinations. When he eventually reaches home she is dead. Rejecting his uncle's attempts to persuade him to stay in tile village, he returns to Calcutta.

"Few directors have fathomed the mysteries of shape, shadow, sound, atmosphere as imaginatively as Ray. The temple overrun with monkeys; the teeming streets; a crowd assembled on a landing listening to a man reading from the scriptures; the wrestler exercising his body silhouetted against the dusk and river: one is reminded again and again of Flaherty, Vigo, Renoir. This is no idle comparison. Above all, in his humanity and faith, Ray has much in common with the Donskoi of the Maxim Gorki trilogy. He has one more film to make before his chronicle is complete. Already, however, Satyajit Ray can safely claim his place beside the cinema's great masters." (Films and Filming.) Aparajito was awarded the Grand Prix, Venice, 1957.

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