Pather Panchali

In 1955, the year Satyajit Ray’s beautiful first feature won the Grand Prix at Cannes, no less a humanist than Francois Truffaut walked out of a screening, declaring, I don’t want to see a film about Indian peasants. Time and critical opinion have been much kinder to this family melodramaderived, like its successors in the Apu trilogy, Aparajito and The World of Apu, from a 30s novel by Bibhutibhusan Banerjeethan to Truffaut’s remark. Yet there’s no question that Ray’s contemplative treatment of a poor Brahman family in a Bengali village, made on a small budget and accompanied by the mesmerizing music of Ravi Shankar, is a triumph of mood and character rather than an exercise in brisk Western storytelling. In Bengali with subtitles. 115 min. (JR)

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