I rarely re-blog articles on Film Frontier. This isn’t because I find them competitive or anything trivial like that. It’s mostly because I rarely find the time these days to read others’ blogs. But every now and then, there comes a post that blows through the halls of WordPress’ feed that absolutely floors me. This review of The Apu Trilogy by my friend and fellow film critic Alfred Soto of Humanizing the Vacuum is one of them. Although I’ve only seen the first (Pather Panchali) in Ray’s monumental trilogy – a shame considering my Indian heritage – Alfred has convinced me that it’s about damn time that I rectify that.
Almost twenty years later, I can still remember the most shattering moment in The Apu Trilogy. In the first half hour of Aparijito, Apu’s kind, foolish father (he’s Polonius without the malice) is knocked flat by fever. Rural India at the beginning of the twentieth century offered little succor. Apu’s mother suggests he bring water from the Ganges. The camera follows him at a discreet distance. Intercut are glimpses of the father, Harihar, convulsing and incoherent, a death agony. When Apu returns and Sarbajaya pours the water down Harihar’s trembling throat, he emits a blood-curdling gurgle, juxtaposed against pigeons in flight across endless sky. Unclear is whether the relief came too late or the water killed him, but the next scene is the young Apu in his best clothes preparing for the funeral.
Twenty years of bad prints on VHS is a long time. Thanks to Gables Art…
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