Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Apu Trilogy, a Classic of World Cinema, Is a Must-See Event

Satyajit Ray's films show us India through the eyes of a boy, a teenager and a man.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Soumitra Chatterjee as Apu, Sharmila Tagore as Aparna (Apu's wife) in Apur Sansara. - COURTESY JANUS FILMS
  • courtesy Janus Films
  • Soumitra Chatterjee as Apu, Sharmila Tagore as Aparna (Apu's wife) in Apur Sansara.

It has been suggested that the rise of the digital image — in production, projection and consumption — has created a lack of interest in visual art as a source for what was once its most significant calling card: the reproduction of the natural world. If it's still not quite clear what we've gained from this turn of events (Pixels, anyone?), you need only turn to the newly-restored version of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy (1955 to 1959) to see what so much current cinema is missing.

The multi-talented Ray was a graphic artist with no cinematic experience when he decided to make this series, but his natural affinity for inspired imagery and editing resulted in a film which was named Best Human Document at the 1956 Cannes festival. Based on a pair of novels written by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee (but also, I suspect, deeply autobiographical for Ray), the film shows the life of one man, Apu, from his birth in a deteriorating village to his eventual maturity.

But to simply praise the trilogy for its realism is misleading. Although each film is complete on its own (Pather Panchali is a story of rustic poverty; Aparajito is about coming of age; the third installment, Apur Sansar, about grief and fate), seen in sequence, they form a rich, inter-related human epic, aspiring to nothing less than a complete picture of twentieth-century India, from the most rural regions to the industrialized cities, from the ancient religious traditions to the rise of modernity.

The Webster Film Series screens the full Apu Trilogy in order for nine nights (October 17 through 25) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or Tickets are $4 to $6.

Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), 7:30 p.m.  October 17, 20, 23.
Aparajito (The Unvanquished),7:30 p.m.  October 18, 21, 24.
Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), 7:30 p.m. October 19, 22, 25.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation