Aparajito | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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This week the Film Center will screen all three parts of Indian director Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy, derived from the novels of Bibhutibhusan Banerjee. This second installment (1956), fully comprehensible on its own terms, suffers at times from its episodic plot, which follows Apu from the age of ten in the holy city of Benares (now Varanasi) to his early adulthood in Calcutta. But it's my favorite of the three, and the reported favorite of Ray's fellow Bengali directors Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. Its treatment of death--Apu's father dies toward the beginning of the film and his mother dies near the end--is among the most beautiful, mystical, and precise handlings of that subject in all of cinema, worthy of Mizoguchi; in a way the film is little more than a careful contextualizing of these two astonishing sequences. Like the rest of the trilogy, Aparajito benefits from the ravishing "commentary" of Ravi Shankar's music. It's a masterpiece for which terms like simplicity and profundity seem inadequate. In Bengali with subtitles. 113 min. Sat 8/27, 5:15 PM, and Tue 8/30, 6 PM, Gene Siskel Film Center.

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