Wednesday, June 03, 2015


UPDATE: 6/4/15

I really hope you were somewhere near a theater this month that was showing the 4K restoration of Satyajit Ray’s peerlessly lovely APU TRILOGY, comprised of Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1957) and The World of Apu (1959). The last time I saw these movies was about 35 years ago, on rickety, well-worn 16mm—seeing them again, having grown-up in the manner (if not the circumstances) of Apu in the interim, makes me feel like I was seeing these luminous treasures for the first time. Ray’s remarkable achievement is in telling the story of Apu, who begins life well after the first film has gotten under way, completely absent any pandering sentiment, through the prism of a world represented for its beauty as well as its unforgiving harshness and indifference, and then expanding the vision of the world’s possibilities so we might understand them in the way Apu does, each tiny revelation absorbed or ignored organically, without the telltale signposts of assigned significance. For every moment of joy along the way, there is also the pain of loss and the struggle of everyday existence, of survival, all of which is rendered with such observational confidence, such almost offhanded grace, that the movies feel more lived in than simply seen.
If you missed the theatrical release (and at this writing they have exactly one day left of their Los Angeles engagement), the upcoming Criterion Collection release becomes even more urgent. Criterion commissioned the salvation of Ray’s films, the negatives of which had been in dire shape for years and nearly lost in a London fire in 1993, with the help of L’Immagine Ritrovata, a Bolognese restoration facility, and their painstaking work was worth every second, every penny. Stephanie Zacharek wrote about the new opportunity to experience Ray’s masterworks last May, and she does a beautiful job of Illuminating the connection of Ray’s work to the emotional and spiritual experience of everyday life. Read her piece and be inspired to seek out THE APU TRILOGY when it bows on Blu-ray later this year.

UPDATE: Looks like Ray's APU TRILOGY will have an extended life in Los Angeles after all. It holds over starting today at both the Landmark Theater in West Los Angeles and the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. The trilogy will continue to make its way across the country through September. For a full listing of cities and theaters that will be playing the films over the course of the summer, click on the official Janus Films APU TRILOGY Web site.

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