SIFF Says:The release of Satyajit Ray’s debut SONG OF THE LITTLE ROAD, also known as PATHER PANCHALI, in 1955 introduced to the world an eloquent and important new cinematic voice. A depiction of rural Bengali life told in the way of Italian neorealism, this poetic evocation of the life of a family introduces us both to little Apu (Subir Banerjee) and, just as essentially, the women who will help shape and define him: his independent older sister, Durga (Uma Das Gupta); his harried mother, Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee); and his kindly and mischievous elderly “Auntie,” Indir Ñvivid (Chunibala Devi). With resplendent photography informed by its young protagonist’s constant sense of discovery, the Cannes-awarded SONG OF THE LITTLE ROAD is an immersive cinematic experience and a film of elemental power. This Indian film landmark is presented in an excellent 4K restoration.
The first installment of the trilogy remains in some ways the most affecting, its scrappy, almost amateurish direction only increasing your emotional investment in the young lead. Throughout the series, Apu learns the value and wisdom of others, as well as the folly of caring only for yourself. Road
traces the nascent steps of this evolution, as the child Apu realizes that the poverty in which he’s raised affects not only him, but his poet father and much-harried mother as well. There are some clumsy moments—both narratively and cinematically—but what do those matter in the face of such glowing, embracing humanism? (BRUCE REID)
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