The Apu Trilogy
Edition no. 782
Details by Film
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—vivid, multifaceted characters all. With resplendent photography informed by its young protagonist’s perpetual sense of discovery, Pather Panchali, which won an award for Best Human Document at the Cannes Film Festival, is an immersive cinematic experience and a film of elemental power.
Satyajit Ray had not planned to make a sequel to Pather Panchali, but after the film’s international success, he decided to continue Apu’s narrative. Aparajito picks up where the first film leaves off, with Apu and his family having moved away from the country to live in the bustling holy city of Varanasi (then known as Benares). As Apu progresses from wide-eyed child to intellectually curious teenager, eventually studying in Kolkata, we witness his academic and moral education, as well as the growing complexity of his relationship with his mother. This tenderly expressive, often heart-wrenching film, which won three top prizes at the Venice Film Festival, including the Golden Lion, not only extends but also spiritually deepens the tale of Apu.
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.
- Audio recording from 1958 of director Satyajit Ray reading his essay “A Long Time on the Little Road”
- New interviews with actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Shampa Srivastava and camera assistant Soumendu Roy
- Excerpts from the 2003 documentary The Song of the Little Road, featuring The Apu Trilogy composer Ravi Shankar
- The Small Details, a new interview with film writer Ujjal Chakraborty
- Audio recording from 1958 of a conversation between director Satyajit Ray and film historian Gideon Bachmann
- Making “The Apu Trilogy”: Satyajit Ray’s Epic Debut, a new video essay by Ray biographer Andrew Robinson
- The Creative Person: “Satyajit Ray,” a 1967 half-hour documentary by James Beveridge, featuring interviews with Satyajit Ray, several of his actors, members of his creative team, and film critic Chidananda Das Gupta
- 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