The Apu Trilogy 4K UHD Is the Pick of the Week

My pick is Criterion’s new 4K UHD upgrade of Satyajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy, which made quite the splash when it was first released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2015.

Ray’s remarkable trilogy starring with the 1955 masterpiece Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), has young, free-spirited Apu growing up in rural Bengal with his rebellious older sister, Durga; his ethereal and playful elder aunt Indir; and his stressed mother, Sarbajaya, who must keep the family together while the patriarch is away. Aparajito (The Unvanquished), the 1956 sequel, has Apu progressing to intellectually curious teenager, eventually studying in Kolkata after he and his family move to a new city. It ends with the third and final film, 1959’s Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), where Apu is now in his twenties, out of college, and trying to be a writer. This is where he begins his romantic experience and the uneasiness of eventual fatherhood.

With delicate storytelling, searing visuals, Ray’s humane direction, and a truly compelling central character in Apu, the three films in the trilogy share a deeply rich coming-of-age story and stand as some of the most important and sublimely moving films in the history of world cinema. They’ve also confirmed Ray’s place as one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time.

The supplements are the same, but they remain vital and very in-depth. They include recordings from 1958 of director Ray reading his essay “A Long Time on the Little Road” and in conversation with film historian Gideon Bachmann; Making “The Apu Trilogy”: Satyajit Ray’s Epic Debut, a video essay by Ray biographer Andrew Robinson; The Creative Person: “Satyajit Ray,” a 1967 documentary short by James Beveridge, featuring interviews with Ray, several of his actors, members of his creative team, and film critic Chidananda Das Gupta; and footage of Ray receiving an honorary Oscar in 1992; and much more. There are also the original essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Girish Shambu, as well as a selection of Ray’s storyboards for Pather Panchali.

If you’re love the work of Satyajit Ray and of world cinema, then this set deserves a place in your collection.

Other releases:

The Holdovers (Collector’s Edition): Alexander Payne’s latest triumph starring the great Paul Giamatti as a reviled Academy teacher who is in looking after Angus (Dominic Sessa), a rebellious but bright student during Christmastime. Along for the journey is Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the Academy’s head cook.


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