Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) won Best Human Document at Cannes (1956). It is what I would refer to as a complete work of art. That is: it is its own world. The characters are more than actors reading lines, the settings are more than constructed sets, and something extraordinary occurred in the making of the film. That may sound over simplistic but only very occasionally does a work take you entirely out of yourself and out of the medium in which it was made. For example, have you ever stood in front of a painting and forgot that you were viewing a painting? Probably rarely or never. But if it happens just once and only for an instance, you’ll know what I mean. This feeling can’t be sustained when reading a book or watching a play, but there can be magic moments.
So yes, I really lost myself in this movie! I loved Auntie and genuinely felt for her when she smiled her big toothless grin and watched it fade from her ancient face when she realized her nephew’s wife was ignoring her. There are many beautiful and touching moments in the film. Many remarkable daily life vignettes as well as some symbolism and some dramatic, funny, and emotionally punishing scenes. The movie is about life at its most simple and direct and although it takes place in a time and place foreign to many of us, you can absolutely relate to its humanity.
Movies such as this are so critical in order to remind us of what we share with ALL our fellow human beings at the most fundamental and core level. I don’t want to give too much away, but I wish to share how wonderful this film is and I look forward to experiencing the other films in the “Apu” trilogy.
(I just noticed that this is the third film I’ve reviewed that has to do – unintentionally – with a road or roads!) – written by jbm 9/18/2017
Criterion Collection Apu Trilogy: https://www.criterion.com/boxsets/1145-the-apu-trilogy?q=autocomplete
My thoughts on Criterion with mention of the trilogy: https://walkcheerfullyblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/the-criterion-collection-what-would-we-do-without-it/
Director’s bio: http://sensesofcinema.com/2002/great-directors/ray/
Excellent BBC Omnibus documentary on the director with descriptions of how the movie came about in part one:
part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISR_0Cedm8U
part two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFumcfihqY
part three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbuNuGmoW_4&t=21s