29 September, 2020


Fifty years after the Apu trilogy, the West still misreads Ray


Satyajit Ray’s chronicle of the life and destiny of the Brahmin boy Apu and his family, which began with Pather Panchali in 1955 and continued with Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956), was completed 50 years ago with the release of Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959). The films were immediately recognised across the world as masterworks. Pather Panchali, a moving study of the joys and sorrows of a rural priestly family, won a prize at the Cannes film festival and then had a record run in New York; Aparajito, a harder-edged depiction of the boy Apu growing up and drifting away from his widowed mother, won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival; the highbrow American journal Film Quarterly hailed Apur Sansar, in which Apu got married, lost his wife, and ultimately gained a son, as “probably the most important single film made since the introduction of sound”.

There’s no doubt western critics loved the trilogy—but to what extent did they...



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