Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Faraway Nearby

I was knocked out by "Pather Panchali," the 1955 Indian film by Satyajit Ray that is Part One of his acclaimed "Apu Trilogy." Grainy, utterly realistic, it places you in the dusty, ramshackle family home in a remote village in West Bengal, bordering on Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). I found it didn't take a cultural leap to identify with the family depicted in the film - daily family tensions and economic woes have a universal ring, but the flavor is decidedly local. The father's an aspiring writer who barely provides for his family - dozens of repairs are pending, and nary a scrap of meat. The mother's fed up with the emaciated, elderly aunt (pictured) that's been staying with them seven years - as you can see, the actress is equally emaciated - that's not makeup and special effects. Armchair travel and armchair tragedy, unforgettable images, and a slow pace - all this awaits you if you place 'Pather Panchali' in your Netflix queue. Happy Real Columbus Day.

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