It seemed only fitting after charulata told me to make this thread to jump into one of the bigger blind spots I have:
2/28 | Pather Panchali | Satyajit Ray | 1955 | 119 min
[stealing ur bar thing wigs]
No place to start like the beginning. I find it really hard to believe this was made by "amateurs" nearly entirely. If I'm not mistaken, this was made before even Ravi Shankar had become well known in India. As a debut feature, and as my first exposure to Satyajit Ray, Pather Panchali
has left quite the mark. Ray has incredible control over the rhythm of his film already, allowing little moments to take center stage as they build the world around Apu, Durga and their family. It all flows together so naturally, the fleeting moments of joy, the crushing lows, the constant hardships. All are pieces in Ray's tapestry of rural life.
At the heart of the film is a group of wonderful performances, particularly from Karuna Banerjee as Sarbajaya, the matriarch. I'm a total momma's boy, and the burdens Karuna carries on her face and in her body throughout the movie is absolutely heartbreaking to me. Along with Uma Dasgupta as Durga, the two untrained actresses are often tasked with shouldering the emotional weight of the film. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Chunibala Devi, who has unique physicality and features that lend so much to her role of Indir. Afflicted with a hunched back and frequently gumming at fruit, she embodies the useless elderly in another cornerstone performance.
The narrative is marked by a number of tragedies, big and small, but Pather Panchali
is never defeatist or miserablist. There are offsetting forces in the universe, with deaths occurring simultaneously as life is celebrated. Ray celebrates the cyclical aspect of nature, the growth that comes with pain, the rebuilding to offset loss. It's remarkable how effortless it all seems, the lives of one family all running together, as they end and begin anew. Ray uses cause and effect, simple or abstract, to strengthen his vision of a singular human bond. As Durga and Apu see a new world in a fleeting glimpse of a train, a life comes to an end in the rural village. Pather Panchali
has an elegant, flowing poetry that drives it, keeping the compassionate heart intact through the dourest of events.