Dana Stevens in Slate:
To live without seeing the films of the Indian director Satyajit Ray, said Akira Kurosawa in 1975, “means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.” Though Ray was 11 years his junior, Kurosawa spoke of him that day in Moscow as a master. “I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,” he recalled of Ray’s debut Pather Panchali, 20 years after that film’s success at Cannes helped to usher in a new era of cinematic globalism—one that would eventually make it possible for a Japanese filmmaker to praise an Indian one in a speech being translated for a Russian audience. “It is the kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river.”
In 2015—now 60 years since Pather Panchali’s release—Kurosawa’s simple words remain the best Ray criticism I’ve heard and, really, all the recommendation his films require. Pather Panchali, along with its two sequels, Aparajito (1956) and The World of Apu(1959)—the three together are known as “the Apu Trilogy,” after their main character—has just been re-released by Janus Films in a pristine 4K restoration, to be made available in a Criterion Blu-ray set later this year. (The original negatives of all three films were burned in a film-lab fire in London in 1993, making the restoration process especially difficult.) If this trilogy comes anywhere near your town—it opened earlier this month for a run at New York’s Film Forum, with plans to spread to more U.S. cities through the summer—I can’t exhort you any more strongly to see it than Kurosawa already has. Do you really want to exist in the world without ever seeing the sun or the moon?