Day 266: Satyajit Ray + Week #6 of the History of World Cinema + History of World Cinema 1964: Part Six

Satyajit Ray

I watched Pather Panchali, (1955), then I had a fall and watched Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959) the following nights, but couldn’t even write about them as I was bound to a chair and couldn’t reach a computer. Tonight I could type into a document on my little Acer computer.

I started viewing the trilogy on Sunday night and watched the second film on Monday and the third on Tuesday.

Each film built upon the previous film’s momentum. That’s a slightly incorrect thing to say about these films – which are viewed as a trilogy – because they weren’t made like a mini-series, where the situations build to a climax which the next film (or night) subsequently builds upon. But I watched them night after night as if it was Berlin Alexanderplatz (but obviously running less than 360 minutes in total).

I liked:

Film #1 because it was about life in poverty (captured by a non-existent camera)
Film #2 was good because it was about a family experiencing poverty but allowing the son to be educated.
Film #3 excellent because it drew me into the story like neither of the previous films did and made me smile and care about Apu and his entirely accidental wife.

Apu loses a sister, a father, a mother and a wife and then rejects the only thing he’s created that has substance – a son.

There must be a metaphor or an analogy that accounts for a person who wants to give life to something new – like a poem or a novel – who then rejects the life he gives life to – like a son or daughter.

Apur Sansar (1959) creates a story that accepts a ridiculous, unbelievable, circumstance that makes the unlovable (and inexperienced) Apu a husband. Through a beautifully designed number of scenes he turns a fictional accident into a fictional blessing and gives life to the warmth and commitment of these two people. These scenes are as expertly directed as anything I can recollect about accidental (and originally unwanted) unions.

Then comes the tragedy – which I didn’t expect. It took me by surprise and took away something I loved about the film and replaced it with something that is more expected and believeable about people living in these times.

The last third of the film explores someone experiencing a bereavement that they can’t get over. They can’t surmount it. They can’t jump it. They can’t put it in a corner. They can’t embrace it.

What they can do, is reject it. Apu rejects it.

Undoubtedly a brilliant trilogy. If someone is thinking about creating a top ten that includes one film from each of the important filmmaking countries then one has to choose from these countries:












Additionally that underachiever – the 11th country:

Movies Made Before Sound

It would be very interesting to analyse the top ten lists by country and whether all lists or most of them contained a silent film or not. I’ll do that one day.

Week #6 of the History of World Cinema

Tonight I dragged myself to the Sydney University building. The bad fall I took on Monday has crippled me. I have been in worse pain, but not like this, unable to move left, right, up or across. Turning the wheel and going up and down stairs is my limit of pain threshold.

History of World Cinema  1964: Part Six

The film tonight was the last thing I expected. Of all the films David Stratton mentioned I would have thought (his favourite, I thought I heard him say, from 1964), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, would be his choice for tonight. But, as usual – using that term – usual – with only six weeks experience of Stratton’s choices – he selected an unlikely film.

Diary of a Chambermaid  – Luis Buñuel’s take on this famous story which was also made by Jean Renoir in 1946, in his period suffering in Hollywood at the hands of the studio bosses. Unfortunately this wasn’t one of the ten Renoir films I was able to get hold off to watchlate last year, the only one from the Hollywood period, the very good The Southerner (1945).

Not a great film. Not one of his best – or a particularly significant – film amongst any generally accepted response to Buñuel’s career. The more noted and accepted choices of great Buñuel would not number this one amongst these films:

Un chien  andalou (1929)

L’âge d’or (1930)

Los Olvidados (1950)

Viridiana (1961)

The Exterminating Angel (1962)

Belle du Jour (1967)

That Obscure Object of My Desire (1977)

It’s probably not even quite as good as the somewhat surreal:

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

But still, Luis Buñuel week has only just started. I immediately followed it up by going home and watching L’âge d’or and it’s been a while since I’ve seen Discrete Charm.