Pather Panchali (1955)

Pather Panchalipather panchali movie poster 1
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Written by Satyajit Ray from a novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Government of West Bengal
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
#297 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Durga: We’ll go see the train when I’m better, all right? We’ll get there early and have a good look. You want to?

Satyajit Ray makes poverty human, beautiful, and sad.

This is the story of several years in the life of a Brahmin family in the ancestral village of the father.  Father is a dreamer and would be playwright.  He turns down jobs because it would be unseemly to agree too quickly even though the family home is about ready to fall down.  Mother struggles mightily to make ends meet and loses her temper frequently.  The daughter Durga is a bit of a dreamer herself, a trial to her mother, and a petty thief.  She mostly steals fruit to give to her ancient Auntie, who lives with them.  Apu, the son, is born about a third of the way into the movie.  He is evidently his family’s great joy and hope.  They send him to school in the village when he is old enough.


Circumstances finally persuade the father to go in search of work.  He says he will be back in a few days but is gone for months.  Mother watches the rice storage hit bottom and then has to face tragedy alone.

Pather Panchali (1955 India)Directed by Satyajit RayShown: Subir Bannerjee

First, this is an exquisitely beautiful film.  The outdoor shots and closeups are simply stunning.  There are whole scenes that have etched themselves into my memory permanently – among them the trek to see the train and the monsoon sequence.  The story is rich in the details of family life.  Ray, a complete beginner, got excellent performances out of his amateur actors.  Finally, I could listen to the Ravi Shankar score for days.  This is one of my very favorite films and highly recommended.

Clip – the monsoon arrives – the Blu-ray restoration of this is a big improvement

TCM intro by Ben Mankiewicz

2 thoughts on “Pather Panchali (1955)

  1. I think you like this one better than I did. I agree it is beautifully made and Shankar is a legend, but it is also so depressing. Usually there is some relieve, but not here, just disaster upon disaster and the worst thing is that it is probably very realistic. Guess where I am not a fan of travelling…

    • I have never been to India but it’s not someplace I really want to go. It looks so dirty from the pictures I have seen. Still love this movie though!

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