theburkenation’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was my first introduction to Satyajit Ray! Man, what a way to meet a director's work! I have a lot to say about The Song of the Little Road, and it's only the first movie in the Apu Trilogy!
Outside of Rab Ne Bana De Jodi and a few other modern Bollywood films, I really don't know that much about Indian Cinema. I love films that really make me feel like I am in a different time and place, and Bollywood has never really done that for me. Pather Panchali, on the other hand, really made me feel like I was in a bygone era. It barely even feels like 1910, but seeing this glimpse into this world really stunned me.
This 1955 film was made with almost no budget from what I'm reading, and the way the minimalism is used in this sweeping black-and-white coming of age story is beautiful. There's no other word to describe it. The village where the story takes place may be rudimentary at best but wow does it feel like a living, breathing universe. Apu, the boy who is a part of this universe, witnesses it, experiences it, and lives with these baleful, all-seeing eyes that are filled with hope and despair. In other words, it's a perfect encapsulation of childhood and the loss of innocence!
All of the actors are brilliant. The way the story unfolds is naturalistic and DENSE. At the end of the film, I was left with this feeling of "wow, life is full of wonder and tragedy, and at the end of the day, all you can do is keep going."
Satyajit Ray is a genius. I can't wait to watch the rest of the trilogy!