Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road). 1955. India. Directed by Satyajit Ray. Adapted from the novel by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee. With Subir Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Uma Das Gupta. 35mm. In Bengali; English subtitles. 126 min.
The titan of Indian cinema, Satyajit Ray, began his film career with Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), the first in a trilogy (followed by Aparajito and Apar Sansar) charting the life of Apu from childhood to adulthood. In this first chapter, Apu and his family scrape by in an impoverished Bengali village. The neorealist, unabashed portrayal of the family’s daily struggles is filled with images of hardship, but not without moments of sweetness and childhood wonder. The rhythms of daily life and nature are poetically observed, accompanied by Ravi Shankar’s lyrical music score. The film had its world premiere at MoMA in 1955, and was presented at the Cannes Film Festival the following year, where it won the Best Human Document award.