Apur Sansar

Part of a multi-title set | The Apu Trilogy

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Synopsis

By the time Apur Sansar was released, Satyajit Ray had directed not only the first two Apu films but also the masterpiece The Music Room, and was well on his way to becoming a legend. This extraordinary final chapter brings our protagonist’s journey full circle. Apu is now in his early twenties, out of college, and hoping to live as a writer. Alongside his professional ambitions, the film charts his romantic awakening, which occurs as the result of a most unlikely turn of events, and his eventual, fraught fatherhood. Featuring soon-to-be Ray regulars Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore in star-making performances, and demonstrating Ray’s ever more impressive skills as a crafter of pure cinematic imagery, Apur Sansar is a moving conclusion to this monumental trilogy.

Picture 9/10

Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) arrives on 4K UHD, presented on a triple-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The 2160p/24hz 10-bit SDR ultra high-definition presentation is sourced from the same 4K restoration used for Criterion’s previous Blu-ray edition (which is also included). This marks the third title in Criterion’s box set, The Apu Trilogy.

Notably, Apur Sansar is the only film in the trilogy with no surviving negatives. Instead, the restoration was sourced from a 35mm fine-grain master positive and a 35mm safety duplicate negative. Impressively, outside of a handful of shots, this isn’t readily apparent and upon revisiting the restoration, it becomes clear that this might be the best-looking one of the three.

The most striking aspect of the presentation is the grayscale, which is surprisingly broad and blends cleanly despite the later-generation print and the disc’s lack of HDR. Black levels are also deep and rich without obliterating shadow details, at least where the source materials permit.

The digital encoding is rock solid, rendering grain cleanly without any issues of macroblocking or noise. The restoration efforts have effectively cleaned up most imperfections. Outside of transitions and some mild scratches and stains, the image is remarkably clean compared to the other films in the set.

As with the other titles, it’s a stunning upgrade over the previous Blu-ray.

Audio 6/10

The 4K disc appears to be using the same PCM 1.0 monaural soundtrack. Again, the audio is a little flat, with the music featuring a slight edge. But there is no damage that I would call significant. It still sounds fine for what it is.

Extras 7/10

The 4K disc only includes the film with no additional features. All supplementary material is found on the included standard dual-layer Blu-ray, which also features a 1080p presentation of the film. This is the same disc Criterion released in 2015.

The supplements for Apur Sansar begin with an interview featuring Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore. Despite its brief 15-minute runtime, it proves rather illuminating, with the two actors discussing their experiences making their first film—Tagore being only 13 at the time. They share insights on working with Ray, preparing for their roles (Chatterjee even wrote his own character bio for Apu), and the authenticity of the film and its sets. They also recount various stories, including technical issues that arose during production.

Next, we have The Apu Trilogy: A Closer Look, a feature with former BFI head Mamoun Hassan. This thorough examination of the trilogy provides a detailed analysis of Ray’s framing, character introductions, editing flow, and the visual language of the films, which Hassan states can all be broken down into “sentences and paragraphs.” He explores each film, discussing particular scenes and sequences. At 43 minutes, it is a solid scholarly supplement that somewhat compensates for the surprising absence of commentaries in the set.

Criterion also includes footage from the 1992 Academy Awards, where Ray received his honorary Oscar. Audrey Hepburn introduces Ray, highlighting his body of work. Through a satellite feed, we see Ray, unfortunately bedridden and looking quite ill, accepting his award. He humorously recalls how he used to write to directors asking for advice but never received a response. This segment only runs a few minutes, but it is a wonderful inclusion.

The disc and the set conclude with Restoring The Apu Trilogy, created by ::kogonada. Viewers can choose between a "Short Version" and a "Long Version." The "Short" version is a 3-minute promotional segment of the new restoration and its theatrical release, providing a quick overview of the work. The "Long" version runs 12 minutes and delves deeper into the restoration process, providing interviews and examples of the techniques used in repairing the materials. It also includes before-and-after comparisons for both the visuals and the audio of the films (the audio for Pather Panchali was in particularly terrible shape). This is a well-crafted feature that thoroughly covers the trilogy's fascinating restoration process, and it is one of my favorites in the set.

Although there isn’t anything specific to Apur Sansar, and the features aren’t as plentiful as one might hope, I found them all rewarding, effectively closing off the set.

Closing

Satisfyingly closing off the set, the new 4K edition for the last film in Ray's Apu Trilogy delivers a striking presentation and a nice set of features examining the trilogy.

Part of a multi-title set | The Apu Trilogy

BUY AT: Amazon.com Amazon.ca Amazon.co.uk

 
 
 
Directed by: Satyajit Ray
Year: 1959
Time: 106 min.
 
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 785
Licensor: NFDC
Release Date: January 02 2024
MSRP: $124.95  (Box set exclusive)
 
4K UHD Blu-ray/Blu-ray
2 Discs | BD-50/UHD-66
1.37:1 ratio
Bengali 1.0 PCM Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions A/None
HDR: None
 
 New interview program with actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore   “The Apu Trilogy”: A Closer Look, a new program featuring filmmaker, producer, and teacher Mamoun Hassan   Footage of director Satyajit Ray receiving an honorary Oscar in 1992   New programs on the restoration of The Apu Trilogy by filmmaker :: kogonada   A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Girish Shambu, as well as a selection of Satyajit Ray’s storyboards for Pather Panchali