Director: Satyajit Ray
Year Released: 1956
This is something: Ray's first film, Pather Panchali, completely won me over the first time I saw it (I was fifteen or sixteen) with its relaxed pacing and simple view of life (it seems to drive most people up a wall), but I'm considerably less enthusiastic with the second part of the Apu trilogy, as the pacing seems to build to two events: the death of both of Apu's parents within an hour of screen time. It's erratic because the editing rhythms are way off; it doesn't seem to have a direct goal in sight for the first hour and then awkwardly goes forward some five years to a college-age Apu and his time in Calcutta. Ray realizes not much is going on, so he disrupts the young man's time at college (which is given minimal attention) by cutting back to the mother's illness and death (the picture suggests she dies of a broken heart and/or loneliness), trying too hard to show Apu's sensitive side. Frankly, I'd just as soon have nothing happen than to have those two incidents foisted upon me to make me feel something for the characters - the deaths, in other words, feel like unnecessary contrivances instead of truly sad events.