Dir: Satyvajit Ray, 1955, 119 mins, India, Cert U
Fresh as a daisy after all these years, Satyajit Ray’s 1955 spellbinder comes underpinned by a tumultuous Ravi Shankar sitar and paints a ground’s-eye portrait of life in an impoverished Bengali village.
This is a place where the thundering locomotives offer the promise of flight, where decrepit relatives take themselves quietly off to die, and where a child’s petty thievery emerges as a defiant act of self-empowerment. The first chapter in Ray’s fabled Apu trilogy, Pather Panchali was shot on the cheap, at weekends, with an untried crew. They rustled up a film that is at once intensely local and gloriously universal.