Plot: In the third in the Pather Panchali trilogy that established premier Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray's name, Apu finally grows up, through the seasoning of tragedy. Apu (famed Indian actor Soumitra Chatterjee), an aspiring writer, takes a trip to the country on a lark with a friend. They attend a wedding in which the groom goes crazy; the family, eager to save face, presses Apu into service as the groom.
Apu resists but finally capitulates, and only reluctantly allows his bride to share his life. They grow ever closer until she goes home to her village to have their baby. She dies in childbirth, leaving a son that Apu is too bitter even to visit. Apu's bestfriend convinces him finally to visit his by-now preschool son, who rejects his friendship, unaware that Apu is his father. Finally, the son relents and both return to Calcutta. Apu the would-be author is finally learning how to live and love.
Style: The film is clearly marked by Ray's debt to Italian neorealists and to Jean Renoir, who so prized film's ability to create the illusion of reality and reveal the ambiguities of the human condition. In that sense it has a "western" feel, perhaps most easily seen in the long take that was also a hallmark of Renoir. His framing, some have noted, also partakes of his experience as a painter and his study with the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Background on director/film: See Distant Thunder.
Film production context: See Distant Thunder.
Importance: World of Apu crowns some of the best known and beloved Indian films internationally. (The first in the trilogy, Pather Panchali, won a special prize at Cannes. With psychological warmth the film describes a crisis both particular to Apu's class, his locale, and his era, and also universal.
Further reading: See Distant Thunder.
Last updated on September 17, 1996
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