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Pather Panchali: Song of the Little Road (1955)

I’m not sure why there was a sudden change in film screenings but this film was very heartbreaking and my expectations of what I was going to see were completely diminished after the first 30 minutes. I probably wasn’t the only one that anticipated grand musical performances throughout the film to emphasis the genre of “Bollywood” but there was none. I’m not going to entirely bash this movie because I understand it is a trilogy and I hope the plot picks up in the other two sequels. From what I gathered, I believe the storyline/plot was the everyday life of a poor village family in Bengal and their struggle to make ends meet. Durga, the sister and the eldest, was notorious for stealing fruit from the neighbor’s garden. She refused to embrace her family’s poverty, she felt that if others could have, why couldn’t they? She was also responsible for looking after her younger brother, Apu. Apu was obedient and looked up to his sister. He was “just there”. The most distraught character would have to have been the mother. She went through various moods and was almost always depressed or angry. Even though her husband was the provider of the family, she basically was the head of the household. The aunt was an engaging character, you don’t see elderly women like that everyday so every time she appeared on screen I was fascinated at watching her gawky gestures. I was surprised to see how the mother scolded her elderly aunt and even kicked her off the property, like where is the love? (and respect).┬áBoth the aunt and Durga, fall victim to death which was a shocker because I only expected the aunt to die.

There were alot of fade to blacks, which suggests the passage of time. The fades were like a resting point, which allowed me to conceptualize and digest the sequences that just took place, since it only kept getting worse. The scene that stood out to me the most, which I also found to be the saddest, was at the end when Apu is preparing for school and is doing everything himself. These were the tasks Durga did for him, she even walked him to school and you can see him walking the same path alone (physically). Their move to a different city did suggest a rebirth for the family and their “luck”. This film was very similar to Early Summer, which revolved around the traditions and dynamics of a modest Japanese family.

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2 Comments

  1.   shauney wrote:

    There were some moving moments in the film and just some dreadfully hard scenes to get through. The action is extremely slow at times and it was just hard for me. I certainly prefer “Early Summer” over this film. However, I sort of curious to see what happens to Apu in the final two films of the trilogy.

    Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  2.   bdolan90 wrote:

    I can see how this movie could be something like Early Summer, both dealt with pretty much the every day lives of a normal family. Though I’d have to say I prefer Early Summer, as Shauney says, because while neither are action packed I feel that Early Summer was a bit more captivating, and certainly held onto my attention more then Pather Panchalli.

    I have to say though, the character development was pretty good in this movie. I also found the aunt to be very interesting, we don’t often see such elderly characters on screen represented that way, and certainly not being disrespected and yelled at by their younger relatives (the mother)

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

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