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500 Five-Star: The Apu Trilogy (1950s)

August 9, 2011

Strangely, unlike other trilogies like Lord of the Rings, the Apu trilogy is entered as one single entry into the 500 Five-Star films.  Bit of a rip-off, if you ask me, but hey…I don’t make the rules.  And I’m not really complaining either.  I may have had to watch three films for this one blog entry, but it was all completely worth it.

The Apu trilogy tells the story of life for a Bengali village boy and his family in the 1920’s…and that’s it.  That’s the whole story.  There’s drama, there’s (lots of) tragedy, but it’s ultimately a very simple tale, and it’s this simplicity which makes it such a stand-out set of movies.  Particularly in the case of Pather Panchali (part one), director Satyajit Ray has created an incredibly beautiful and rich world, occupied by complex, fascinating characters.  The films are very slow-moving, yet never boring; as a matter of fact, the slow pace serves only to envelop you so deeply into the story that you can’t help but be disappointed when it ends.  Every single scene is full of detail, full of compassion and full of beauty.  In keeping with the simplicity of the story, Ray rarely uses clever cinematic techniques or jazzy editing to compose his picture, and his shoestring budget means everything is tinged with an air of authenticity.  Each of the films are unique in their own way, concentrating on different aspects of Apu’s life, yet the trilogy flows together perfectly and each is absolute quality.  My personal favourite would be the first, yet my husband is undecided between the second and third…and just how often do you get a set of films where there are no obvious weak links?


Having never heard of the Apu trilogy before, I now believe them to be a must-watch for any fan of cinema.  Of course I agree with Empire…


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