Monday, October 27, 2014

322. Aparajito/The Unvanquished (1957)

Running Time: 113 minutes
Directed By: Satyajit Ray
Written By: Satyajit Ray, from novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Main Cast: Smaran Ghosal, Karuna Banerjee, Pinaki Sen Gupta, Kanu Banerjee, Ramani Ranjan Sen


Of course when I said on Saturday to "check back tomorrow" for the review of Aparajito, I clearly meant to check back Monday and you just heard it wrong :) Nonetheless, here we are and if everything goes as planned this won't be the last review you read this week - by a long shot.

The second film in Ray's "Apu Trilogy" picks up pretty much where the first one left off. Apu is still a child, mother is still the pillar of the household - slightly depressed maybe, but letting everything fall on her shoulders - and dad is now a priest, with the entire family now living in a more populated area. I wouldn't consider it a spoiler alert to tell you that the father, Harihar (Kanu Banerjee) dies within the first twenty minutes of the movie and that basically sets us up for this movie, a further examination of the relationship between Apu and his mom, Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee). Here's hoping you've seen Pather Panchali before you read that, or else it kind of would be a spoiler alert, if you're trying to watch the trilogy as one big movie. Anyway, at a young age, Apu shows interest in wanting to attend school and his mother finally gives in. He begins school and actually does really well, earning high marks and extra attention from his professors. A montage of Apu expanding his knowledge and sharing his new found wisdom with his mother takes from his childhood into his adolescence, now ready for college and needing permission from mom to accept a scholarship to go and study in Calcutta. At first, mom says no, but it's only her impending loneliness speaking for her and after a brief altercation between mother and son, she gives in and even gives him some of her savings to get him started in the city. While away at college, however, Sarbajaya falls ill, perhaps somewhat driven by her loneliness and depression.


I really expected to like this one more than Pather Panchali, but after some thought, I think I liked the first in Ray's "Apu Trilogy" better. I will say this one SHOULD HAVE been better though, as there wasn't a period of introducing us to the characters to get through and really it was just a solid two hours of telling us more of the story we'd already started in the original. Otherwise, my thoughts on this are very similar, expect I would say that the characters develop deeper feelings in this one. I was shocked to see the father get rubbed out so quickly into the second film and even more shocked to see the mother die as well. I actually really liked her and am left wondering if she's been in anything else. She brought a deepness to her character, in an otherwise basic movie complete with a fairly basic plot and otherwise basic characters. I loved how they referred back to the train and how in the original film it was a symbol of the children's hopes & dreams and how in Aparajito, it was a symbol of the mother's loneliness and yearning to have her family back, particularly Apu in her final hour of need. It really came full circle and I'm left wondering (again) if they'll reincorporate the train into the third installment somehow - if it was Hollywood they would and then there'd be some sappy score and a tear stained face belonging to Apu. I'll be interested to see how they roll in India.

Despite not being taken by this one, I'm STILL looking forward to The World of Apu, in hopes that they really bring everything back full circle and tie everything up in a nice bow. I'm curious to see where the Apu character goes from here and how many more characters Ray kills off - seriously does this guy write for Game of Thrones (never seen the show, but I hear characters die off like wildfire). I think my biggest problems with these movies is just the culture clash and how I'm just SO accustomed to Hollywood movie making. Even after sifting through THE BOOK for years now, in some ways I'm still in a certain mode and still like a certain thing. In a lot of ways my tastes have changed drastically, yet there's parts of me that likes what I like and likes what I've always liked and these movies just don't fall completely into that category. Watching them on a laptop probably doesn't help matters either, but there's really not much I can do about that. However, on the other hand, I watched Greed on my computer (so many years ago) and I loved that freaking movie. Anyway, I'm ready for the third in the trilogy and am hoping (yet skeptical) that it'll blow these two out of the water.

RATING: 5/10  Same rating and like I said, I think Panchali is a bit better, although this one got certain things better, so it's a tough call. I loved the mother's performance in this one and the scene with her watching the train was definitely powerful.


October 27, 2014  4:45pm

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