The Apu Trilogy - Critical Reception

Critical Reception

This trilogy is considered by critics around the globe to rank among the greatest achievements of Indian film, and is established as one of the most historically important cinematic debuts. Pather Panchali won at least thirteen international prizes (including Best Human Document at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival), followed by eleven international prizes for Aparajito (including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival) and numerous other awards for Apur Sansar (including the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival). When Ray made Pather Panchali, he worked with a cast and crew most of whom had never been previously involved in the film medium. Ray himself at the time of directing Pather Panchali had primarily worked in the advertising industry, although he had served as assistant director on Jean Renoir's 1951 film The River. From this foundation, Ray went on to create other highly acclaimed films, like Charulata, Mahanagar, and Aranyer Dinratri, and his international success energized other Bengal filmmakers like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.

This extract from the South African author J. M. Coetzee, talks of the music in the Apu trilogy, which is based on Indian classical music. From Coetzee's Youth:

At the Everyman Cinema there is a season of Satyajit Ray. He watches the Apu trilogy on successive nights in a state of rapt absorption. In Apu's bitter, trapped mother, his engaging, feckless father he recognizes, with a pang of guilt, his own parents. But it is the music above all that grips him, dizzyingly complex interplays between drums and stringed instruments, long arias on the flute whose scale or mode - he does not know enough about music theory to be sure which - catches at his heart, sending him into a mood of sensual melancholy that last long after the film has ended.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Pather Panchali has a 97% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 34 reviews, and has been included in its list of top 100 foreign films. Aparajito has a 93% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 14 reviews, and The World of Apu has a 100% fresh rating based on an aggregate of 16 reviews. All three films having a 100% fresh rating based on reviews from top critics. This makes The Apu Trilogy one of the highest-rated film trilogies of all time (97%, 93%, 100%), along with the Toy Story trilogy (100%, 100%, 99%), The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the original Star Wars trilogy (94%, 97%, 78%).

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