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on 27 March 2009
If you could put into words what Satyajit Ray conveys through his cinema then you would be a James Joyce, or a Robert Frost. If you love Malick, Tarkovsky, Bergamn, Bresson, Ceylan in other words the greatest film makers that ever lived then Ray may just be better than them all and he is someone you should see. Love will follow. I envy you the experience of discovering his cinema for the first time. Don't think twice just watch and be transported and his films will be something you will treasure always. The Apu Trilogy is a great place to start.
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on 29 March 2008
I have rarely been so enchanted by films as I have with these three masterpieces by Satyajit Ray.

To those with short attention spans and desire for non stop action and brainless entertainment, these films will probably bore, but for anyone who is fascinated by realism in cinema, by atmospheres and emotions and strong sensual stories and characters, then this is for you.

With beautiful music by Ravi Shankar, the three films tell the tragic yet also cathartic tales of the life of Apu, from his childhood onward. They are a fascinating insight into Indian life that one doesn;t get to see in the fntasy world of Bollywood.

Don't delay, buy this now and you will find yourself drawn back to watch them again and again...
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on 24 January 2009
This trilogy is an absolute classic and should be in the library of anyone interested in film or who is keen to discover more about the soul of India. It really captures the essence of village life in India in times gone past, then moves with the hero to the City as he grows up. It's simplicity and the haunting candour with which it shows the main character's life will touch you deeply.

Satyajit Ray is rightly revered and I'd recommend that you also see some of his other work: (JALSAGHAR)The Music Room and The Chess Players. Also read the books of Rabrindanath Tagore whose stories have been turned into some great short films by Indian directors...Kabuliwala is another classic.
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on 23 July 2009
I agree entirely with all the praise that other reviewers have lavished on these films. They're astonishing, moving, beautiful, and deserve to be seen.
However, beware the quality of these discs. They're the only ones available, so if you desperately want to own the Apu trilogy then you'll just have to put up with them; but if you can, it might be better to wait until a remastered edition. The subtitles are shoddy, frequently missing short exchanges of conversation (it's not that one can't make a guess as to what is being said, but it's disruptive to be suddenly deprived of a translation) and fading out altogether for a good ten minutes in Pather Panchali, during the theatrical sequence, so that one has no idea what the play is about or how its plot might relate to the wider themes of the film. The sound on the discs is also uneven - about 35 minutes into Aparjito, for instance, there's a sustained period of disruption - and the film often scratchy.
These are classics of world cinema and deserve better treatment. As I say, this doesn't mean you shouldn't watch these films, but patience might be rewarded if you're considering a purchase: sooner or later they'll surely be re-released in a remastered edition.
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on 15 September 2003
I have watched each of these films probably 4 times since I bought the trilogy only 3-4 weeks ago. I have never been so affected or moved by any film or any art form. There are literally dozens of images that have stayed with me every day since seeing them, passing through my head be it on a bus, at work, or wherever. The masterclass feature on the World of Apu, further highlights the genius of Ray & his crew. An absolutely fantastic piece of work that makes you want to go out & share your experience with everyone.
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on 8 February 2016
NOTE: This is a review of "Pather Panchali." I'll add material as I see the two later movies.

I watched "Pather Panchali" on the Criterion re-issue of the Apu Trilogy, but I wanted to review it separately. It's hard to come at it with innocent eyes, so the speak, when one knows that it it is Satyajit Ray's first film, and that it owes something to Italian neo-realism, and that in making it as an independent film, Ray set his face against a tradition of Indian film-making that seemed to him superficial and escapist. If you know all that, even as broadly as I do, then you can see the point of his moviemaking. Conventional plot is dispensed with, to be replaced by the chronology of ordinary life and its contingencies; the characters are poor Bengali villagers, living in crumbling buildings at close quarters with their neighbors, and facing problems of poverty -- debt, an uncertain future for their children, domestic uncertainty (as in the case of Sarbajaya [Karuna Banerjee], whose husband, an itinerant preacher and would-be writer, vanishes to the city in hopes of finding work and financial security). The children grow up -- we see Apu come into the world, and we see him and his older sister over the next ten years. That sounds a bit documentary-like, but there is no explanatory voice-over, and the film has a definite visual rhythm that circles back to the domestic dwelling, which is always in a state of decay, and takes in, as the children get older, a wider world of the surrounding forests, the fields beyond, and the railroad, which seems to speak of an even wider world but which, in this movie, seems to mark the outer limits for the villagers and especially Apu's mother.

The characters, including the children, are deftly individualized, with Apu's mother and his sister (Uma Das Gupta) being most clearly in the forefront. Character-development isn't really the point -- rather it is the feelings, moods, and behavior of people conscious of a constricted life. Their responses for an audience in 2016 will seem strange, and even in 1955, when the film appeared, the representation of women's lives -- which is really what the movie is about, with three generations of Apu's family in the picture -- must have seemed both exotic and yet dismaying. What I'll remember most about the movie is Karuna Banerjee's performance -- it is a study in a fight against what we would call hopelessness and depression, though the latter term would perhaps be meaningless in the culture that's represented. She isn't introspective, and she deals with situations as they arise, and it's hard to see just how she keeps going on. It's a great performance. Her often-absent husband (Kanu Banerjee), who seems good-natured and wants to believe in the possibility of his success, comes across as a hapless and naive optimist who seems to live at a distance from the experiences of the women in his family.

The Criterion transfer is fine -- nice black-and-white images that show their age a bit but which work to help make real the limits of the lives we see. Color, one might imagine, might put a veneer of exoticism on this subject matter. I don't know that color was an option for Ray -- but B&W is right anyway.
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on 12 April 2015
Satyajit Rays beautiful trilogy of films begins with Pather Panchali set in a Bengal village where we meet Apu a young boy growing up in dire poverty but surrounded by a loving family.Then there is Aparajito where Apu is now a teenager and wins a scholarship to study in Calcutta giving him the freedom to see the outside world and finally The World of Apu where he is now an adult and marries only to have his wife die while giving birth.He then rejects his son but at the climax is reunited with him carrying his son on his shoulders while a brave new world awaits them.These are three beautiful movies which should be seen together to fully appreciate them.The high point in Indian cinema.
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on 21 February 2016
Uncluttered brilliance from Mr. Ray; pin-sharp photography, involving characters and slightly mystical stories make the Apu films landmarks of their time and traditions.
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on 21 September 2011
This trilogy is a hallmark for film-making. The first of the three films (Pather Panchali/Song of the Little Road) is Satyajit Ray's first feature film and is a stunning piece of cinema. Documenting the life of a small boy in a family that is falling into poverty and his further life with his mother (in Aparajito/The Unvanquished) and then his marriage(in Apur Sansar/The world of Apu), it is a comprehensive and moving story of a childhood and the painful growth into maturity. Good picture quality and gorgeous cinematography, beautifully rounded characters who are easily loved and a series of stories that resonate with a universal human feeling. Highly recommended.
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on 21 April 2008
If you only buy one DVD (or DVD box set) buy this one, as this is the apotheosis of classic Indian cinema directed by its most celebrated auteur. It is heartbreakingly beautiful, unflinchingly and brutally honest and makes utterly compelling viewing. Having seen all three films separately as they were released, which now make up this box set, I viewed them all in a marathon late night session last week in the company of seven of my closest friends, all of whom are hardened Generation X and Y internet-saturated unimpressible film buffs, none of whom had seen the films previously. They were stunned by the simplicity with which the complex issues in the films were presented, and the sheer visual beauty of the black and white films which they described as "masterpieces" and "timeless". The linked chronological narratives of all three films expertly developed the themes Satyajit Ray was exploring, and the consensus was that this was the best night's film viewing we had all experienced. For all those equating Indian films with the Bollywood formulaic products churned out with mind-numbing regularity and indistinguishablity, let me assure you that this is as different from the Bollywood treadmill product as diamonds are from gravel. If you have not seen the films, I envy you the delights you are about to experience.
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