LetterboxD review link

Second films, especially in famous trilogies, often get short shrift. This sequel, though, is just as good as the original. I watched Aparajito with a closer eye on Ray’s film-making choices and was, once again, impressed with the photography, lighting, framing (so many frames within frames), blocking, spacing and ratios of this film. The technical aspects of his directing continue to blow my mind, especially given his amateur status as a film-maker, and that these films were made in the 1950s.

The emotionality of this film, in line with Apu’s own aging, is more complex. While Pather Panchali was much more carefree for big chunks of the first half, this film deals with difficult subjects throughout. Apu’s growing up. And the world around him is becoming more complex.

These films could, and I’m sure are, taught as complex and complete texts about modernity, post-colonialism, and 20th century identity. The life that Apu lives here, going from a village to a modern city, investing in education, learning about the world through travel, is a particularly 20th century life. I’ve seen many pictures of my father or grandfather or great-uncles as young men in rural India, going to college with other young men, and ultimately creating new lives for themselves far from the homes where they were born. Unfortunately, women were not afforded these opportunities at the same rate. But even seeing and hearing the stories of these men is fascinating. A historical artifact for us to remember and embrace.