The second part of Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy (1956), fully comprehensible on its own terms, suffers at times from its episodic plot, which follows Apu from age ten in the holy city of Benares to his early adulthood in Calcutta. But this is my favorite film in the trilogy, and the reported favorite of Ray's fellow Bengali directors Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. Its treatment of death—of Apu's father toward the beginning of the film and of his mother near the end—is among the most beautiful, mystical, and precise handlings of that subject in all of cinema, worthy of Mizoguchi; in a way the film is little more than a careful contextualizing of these two astonishing sequences. An adaptation of roughly the last fifth of Bibhutibhusan Banerjee's novel Pather Panchali and the first third of his subsequent novel Aparajito, this benefits as much as the rest of the trilogy from the ravishing "commentary" of Ravi Shankar's music. It's a masterpiece for which terms like "simplicity" and "profundity" seem inadequate. In Bengali with subtitles.
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