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Time Out says
Tue Aug 23 2005It’s 50 years since the late, great Bengali writer-director Satyajit Ray made his debut with this, the first and finest installment of his ground-breaking ‘Apu Trilogy’. It was the first Indian movie to attract attention in the West, and if your experience of subcontinental cinema extends no further than Bollywood’s romantic musicals, it’s not just the film’s enduring status as a landmark of world cinema that makes it essential viewing. It remains a miracle of lyrical realism: the detailed, documentary-style observation of village life as experienced by young Apu, his sister Durga, their parents and ancient grandma is inflected by a marvellous use of motifs (trains beckoning to another, industrialised urban world, water as a symbol of cyclical regeneration) to turn a simple rites-of-passage story into pure poetry. A hymn to curiosity, courage and conscience, it introduces Apu as an opening eye, innocent of adult anxieties but alert to adventure and, finally, moral discovery. Ravi Shankar’s music is great too. A masterpiece, inarguably.