Pather Panchali (1955).

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A very sad film about a Bengali family and their struggles with poverty and loss.

“When I’m better, we’ll go and look at the trains again. We’ll get a good look this time.”

Please excuse me while I haul myself out of the pit of despair this film pushed me into.

This film surprised me. I thought it was going to be 2 hours of nothingness. Perhaps its good that I knew nothing about it before watching it for a Film History screening so my thoughts would not be unduly biased towards a film in which I wanted a quick ending and forgettable characters.

Following the viewing of the film, (and with a strong bereft feeling in my heart) I rushed to find out more about it. Strong neo-realist influences, unknown actors and untrained crew?! Heavily influenced by the Bicycle Thieves?!

To be honest, this film could have been a few minutes shorter, without destroying the film’s pure essence. Apart from that, there is nothing I dislike about the movie now I think of it in retrospect. It almost felt like a docudrama; showing the existence of a poor family in Bengal and their struggles: having to care for an elderly relative, poverty, the husband’s struggle to find a job, the lure of a distant train…

Ultimately a beautiful film, I can see why it was highly commended. A must see.

MY RATING: **** / *****

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