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Pather Panchali
Pather Panchali
Actors: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Subir Bannerjee, Uma Das Gupta, Chunibala Devi
Director: Satyajit Ray
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2003     1hr 59min

The first in a popular trilogy of Indian films! Pather Panchali is a moving story of a rural family cursed with bad luck. The father is a dreamer, while his wife struggles to feed the family, including son Apu. When a pett...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Subir Bannerjee, Uma Das Gupta, Chunibala Devi
Director: Satyajit Ray
Creators: Subrata Mitra, Satyajit Ray, Dulal Dutta, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/28/2003
Original Release Date: 09/22/1958
Theatrical Release Date: 09/22/1958
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 59min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Song of the Little Road
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 04/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Delicate, almost lyrical black-and-white images, offer insight into the harshness of life in a rural Bengali village. Panther Panchali is the first movie in Satyajit Ray's (1921-1992) compelling Apu Trilogy. Ravi Shankar's hauntingly beautiful music takes this movie to a mythical level.

Satyajit Ray's ability to reveal this story at a leisurely pace, all while intriguing you with the details of Indian life, keeps you captive to the last minute. Even the old stone buildings of the ancestral home seem artistic.

In the first story we find Durga stealing guavas and Apu is not yet born. As Durga's mother, Sarbajaya (Karuna Bannerjee), struggles to look after family members she is already responsible for, her relatives criticize her for her lack of leadership in the family. The auntie Indir (Chunibala Devi) takes delight in Durga's adventures and loves the gifts of bananas and guavas.

There is a comforting scene where she is seen sitting against an ancient wall while she rocks Apu in a basket hanging from the ceiling. As she sings there is a moment of serenity in this world where each day seems to be a fight for survival. Her optimistic attitude is almost heroic in the light of how she is often treated. She has much to offer her community and excels at story telling. Watch for the scene where her face is silhouetted against the wall late at night. This movie has many cinematic moments that border on enlightened creativity.

For some reason, this movie reminded me of living in Africa on a campsite/farm where we would borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors house or wander down a path to the river. Here we find the comical "Indir" stealing chilies or other cooking supplies from Sarbajaya. Sarbajaya is overwhelmed by her own life and yet later she is faced with her own loneliness as she sinks into depression.

Apu's father, Harihar, struggles to find work although he has dreams of seeing his plays performed. He is truly an example of a beautiful soul vibrating at a higher level of creativity than those around him and yet he is forced to take on menial work just to survive.

As the story progresses Apu grows into an adorable whisp of a child and I love the scene where he and his sister walk down the well-worn path. There are scenes of dancing in the monsoon rains and while all the characters seem to be living in their own worlds, they somehow function in their community in a meaningful way. As the rains bring life back to the land, nothing can prepare you for the emotional impact of the scenes that follow.

Overall, I was impressed with the brilliance of the storytelling and how each story weaves almost effortlessly into the next. Pather Panchali is one of the rare film experiences no one should miss. Not only does it address the basics of survival in a community, it makes you think about your own role and how your choices affect everyone around you.

If you can watch Aparajito and The World of Apu in the next few days following your first viewing of Panther Panchali, your experience will turn into a complete immersion in the intriguing and exotic world of Apu. After watching the first movie, I could hardly wait to watch the second and within a day I had watched the third. These movies will leave you in the deepest of contemplation for days and not only will you find yourself lost within the minds of the characters, you will enjoy all the connections between the movies.

~The Rebecca Review"
The exquisite first film of the great Satyajit Ray
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 01/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Once upon a time, in the early years of the last century, a young boy named Apu lived with his poor Brahmin family in a village in Bengal. The father, Harihar Ray (Kanu Bannerjee) is a poet and a priest, who would rather think of an idea for his next play than make an effort to get the money that is owed him, and who responds to the hardships of life with the simple declaration, "Whatever God does is for the best." Consequently, he has to travel far away for long periods of time to try and raise the money his family needs to survive, to pay back their debts, and to repair the family home, which is falling down. This leaves his wife and two children to survive as best they can in this intimate and poetic film.The two things I knew about this classic Indian film before I watched it was that it was the first by director Satyajit Ray and the first in the Apu trilogy. I found the later more interesting because Apu (Subir Bannerjee) is arguable the least significant of the major characters in this film, which centers more on his mother, Sarbojaya (Karuna Bannerjee), and especially his sister, Durga (Uma Das Gupta). Durga is something of a petty theft, who is always stealing fruit from the neighborhood orchards. Her mother defends her behavior to the neighbors, pointing out that fruit does not have the name of its owner on it, but she does not know what to do about Durga, or about the family's old auntie (Chunibala Devi). Apu is a witness to some of what happens, but it is not until the end of the film that he has a scene of some importance. Even then, it is the poetry of the moment that matters more than anything Apu does, and you are left with a sense of wonder as to how Ray has crafted this film so that this relatively simple moment becomes so eloquent."Pather Panchali" was also known as "The Lament of the Path," "The Saga of the Road," and "Song of the Road," all of which give you a sense of the meaning and import of the title. You would be hard pressed to describe the plot of this movie in terms that would be enticing to an audience that is going to have to sit down and read subtitles for a film, but there are so many memorable moments in this film without dialogue, that being forced to read the English subtitles of the Bengali dialogue seems a small price to pay. This is about a poor rural family cursed with bad luck, and even that minor description gives no indication of the scope of this film. Even when nothing is happening, the scenes are still filled with meaning, and we never shake the feeling that we are watching real life. After seeing this film I started reading up on Ray and the legendary story of how he made this film, it is rather unbelievable when you consider we are talking about one of the greatest "foreign" film directors of all time, right up there with Kurosawa, Bergman, and Fellini. The short version is Ray had never directed a scene, his cameraman (Subrata Mitra) was a still photographer who had never shot a film, and his young actors had been hired without tryouts. He also hired a young musician named Ravi Shankar to do the score, and the result was cinematic magic and a film debut that is unforgettable. "Pather Panchali" is followed by "Aparajito" (1957) and "Apur Sansar" (1959) in telling the rest of the story of young Apu as he grows up. I have not seen then yet, but of course I will. I just need to let the afterglow of having finally seen this film dissipate first before I move on to the next offering in the trilogy."
Beautiful and Unforgettable
Tania Moulik | IL, USA | 06/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pather Panchali, a simple, moving, story of a family struggling to survive the harshness of poverty in a village in Bengal. Nothing magical, nothing remarkable, and yet their lives encompass all the varied emotions that is within us all. That is the greatness of this film. It is ageless and universal. The bond between the girl Durga and Auntie,the old old lady is sweet and moving. So is the love between the little brother Apu and elder sister Durga. The simple things that fill these children with happiness, like a passing train, transport us to the simplicity of our childhood. The song when old Auntie calls to God in the gloomy dusk, to relieve her from the burden of this earth is haunting and sad, in that we feel the utter loneliness of the old woman. Each scene, is filled with meaning and there are no artificial sounds. In one of the scenes, with Durga and Apu roaming in the fields, there is just a heavy stillness, broken just by the sound of a sighing wind. The sitar recital by Ravi Shankar when the monsoon breaks and the first drops of rain fall, with the insects dancing over the rippling lake is magical and poetic. This movie, considered the best of Satyajit's work, remains one of the best and unforgettable movies, for me."
An amazing movie with a terrible DVD release.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 05/11/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)

This would be a ludicrously long review before I ran out of good things to say about Pather Panchali. But everyone else has already said all those things. If you didn't listen to them, you're not going to listen to me, but I'll put in a "see it. now." here for good measure and get onto what will be a review not of a great film, but a ludicrous DVD release.

Biswas proudly trumpets that it has exclusive rights to Pather Panchali in the DVD market. If this is the case, it should be considered a crime against nature. The video transfer is horrible, the sound transfer only marginally better. I've seen better subtitling on bargain-basement bootleg Chinese DVDs. If your only chance to see the film is in the Biswas DVD release, wait until you can catch a revival somewhere. This is terrible in the extreme, and hopefully, someday, someone will do something about it. The movie gets four stars; the DVD release, one."