THE APU TRILOGY CRITERION COLLECTION BLU RAY

Criterion collection are something of a cinematic marvel for the physical media generation. When they release a film, its highly likely it is the greatest release of that film to hit the ground. Satyajit Ray’s THE APU TRILOGY is a series of films that set alight cinema for the cinephile generation. The blossoming new wave saw, consumed and coveted these Indian films, like RASHOMON had done for Japanese cinema just 5 years prior.

Charting the life of  a man from his childhood to fatherhood. Apu starts with life in a small village in Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road). This film, inspired by Italian neo realism but suffused with Indian ambition of a post colonial world and the villages about to be riveted by industrialisation.  We then move around to Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apu journey to the holy city of Varanasi. a place dependant on and influenced by religion. As suffused with realism but adding to the conversation an examination of the socio political nature of the country. 

Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) completes the trilogy.  It sees Apu living life post schooling. Love, life, fatherhood and identity grow. The world he lives in is seen as a challenge but one he is up to. Filled with the new sense of India. And that is the series. A deeply powerful, sometimes morose, sometimes redemptive study of a man and his times. It never loses its gravity nor leaves the viewer less than enriched.

Now Criterion have completed the circle by bringing the masterful trilogy of films together for us physical media types, the chance to own.  Two decades after its original negatives were burned in a fire, THE APU TRILOGY  — have all been given 4K restorations. Which sharpen, shape, shield and shadow the film. Projected they look stunning. The Academy Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and L’Immagine Ritrovata, don’t mess around and well we expected that.

Another note is on the box work and box art. Paper is perishable but the film looks wonderful with the loving visual scope and scapes that are inside the sleeves. My favourite is the Pather Panchali image of the field. A well trodden image that feels fresh and certainly feels renewed in the image.

Pather Panchali

EXTRAS

Ray’s essay, recorded on audio on this disc, is well worth listening to. It may not add a great deal but it has a richness that is invigorating. The excepts of the 2003 documentary is better. Build to really dig into the film’s making. You would not do wrong starting here. The essay booklet however, with this disc is frankly amazing. I loved the storyboard and its revealing about a director and his work. Add to that the Terence Rafferty essay, that is gorgeous in detail, you cant miss being impressed.  10/10

 

Aparajito

EXTRAS

The student is a student which observes and unpacks ideas. Ujjal Chakraborty piece The Small Details, is excellent. It revives the idea that to understand personally, is to relate privately. The Creative Person is however the best thing on the disc, no question. It is a little unbalanced by the themes and time restraints but it is an exceptional drive into Ray, his work, his process and his mindset. This should at the very least start the juices going for an interest in the man and his art work.

9/10

Apur Sansar

EXTRAS

A lot on this disc is throw away. The Oscar presentation. The restoration program. However. Please, please, please listen to Sharmila Tagore account of the film and its creative force. This is a work of sheer interview joy. She is a stunning actress, beauty, talent and tonal. She also understands how to talk film. Its style, substance and skill. The other really good thing here is Mamoun Hassan analysis piece. This should have been as a part of a separate disc and he should have been given 3 hours on the film…

9/10

 

  • New 4K digital restorations of all three films, undertaken in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and L’Immagine Ritrovata, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
  • Audio recordings from 1958 of director Satyajit Ray reading his essay “A Long Time on the Little Road” and in conversation with film historian Gideon Bachmann
  • New interviews with actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Shampa Srivastava, and Sharmila Tagore; camera assistant Soumendu Roy; and film writer Ujjal Chakraborty
  • Making “The Apu Trilogy”: Satyajit Ray’s Epic Debut, a new video essay by Ray biographer Andrew Robinson
  • “The Apu Trilogy”: A Closer Look, a new program featuring filmmaker, producer, and teacher Mamoun Hassan
  • Excerpts from the 2003 documentary The Song of the Little Road, featuring composer Ravi Shankar
  • The Creative Person: “Satyajit Ray,” a 1967 half-hour documentary by James Beveridge, featuring interviews with Ray, several of his actors, members of his creative team, and film critic Chidananda Das Gupta
  • Footage of Ray receiving an honorary Oscar in 1992
  • New programs on the restorations by filmmaker :: kogonada
  • New English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Girish Shambu, as well as a selection of Ray’s storyboards for Pather Panchali

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