Friday, December 11, 2015

Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) (1955)

Today's film is Pather Panchali.  It is part of a series, so don't expect any closure at the end.

So here we have a family living in India, and they are barely getting by.  The father is a writer, poet, and priest, who is artistic but doesn't have much money sense.  He even gave away his family's orchard to settle his brother's debts.  Did he know exactly how much his brother owed vs. how much the orchard was worth?  Was there anything on paper proving this?  No probably not.

To get by and put food on the table for her two children, the mother, Sarbojaya, sells what little possessions she has, including her wedding dishes.  The struggle is real.  Interestingly, this film was made on a tiny budget, and the director and his wife pawned their possessions to help fund it.

Her daughter, Durga, often steals from the orchard, but it did used to be her orchard, so I don't think she knows what she is doing is wrong.  Eventually, her kleptomania evolves to steal non-food items as well.  What's worse is that her family defended her the entire time and she actually did steal the jewelry.  There's like a total of ten people in her village, where was she planning on wearing it?

Durga has a little brother named Apu, who is sent to school, but it's not a very good school from the looks of it.    Most of the film centers around the two.  Even though they don't have much, they share simple joys every day.  Durga is a great example of a big sister, being a leader, motherly, but sometimes teasing too.  Got to keep the younger siblings in line.

Their dad decides to leave town to find work, and it takes a toll on the family, especially his wife.  After playing in the rain, Durga catches a cold, which develops into a high fever and she passes away.  Soon after, her dad returns home with gifts, but no one cares because Durga is gone.  The family decides to leave their ancestral home to find a new life elsewhere.

It is refreshing to see an Indian film without a ton of singing.  Also, the whole life in poverty theme is pretty universal.  I will give it a 7/10.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, thankfully no singing in this one, but it is a depressing story.