Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy Restored

Erick Neher in The Hudson Review:

ScreenHunter_1294 Aug. 06 18.17In critical circles, Satyajit Ray is a name held in the same high regard as fellow mid-century Art Cinema titans Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa. But the Indian director and his works have never quite passed into the general consciousness in the manner of his contemporaries. Although his films reliably show up on all-time best lists, especially his landmark “Apu Trilogy,” and especially the first of those films, Pather Panchali, he lingers on the sidelines in the U.S. A major factor in this neglect has been the accessibility and the condition of his films. For decades, the only available projection prints have been of poor quality, and home video issues looked washed out, scratchy, unfocused. Fortunately, the invaluable Criterion Collection has recently undertaken a massive restoration of the three Apu films, and new Digital Cinema Projection (DCP) “prints” are currently traveling across the country and will eventually be used for new Blu-ray and DVD releases. The results of the restoration are sensational; the films probably didn’t look this good on their initial release.

The Apu films are a classic Bildungsroman, following the central character from birth to manhood, through trials and triumphs. Pather Panchali (generally translated as “Song of the Little Road” and first shown in 1955) introduces Apu’s Brahmin family, living in poverty in a tiny Bengali village.

More here.