Satyajit Ray Guido Aristarco - Essay

Guido Aristarco

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The influences of the Italian cinema on Satyajit Ray are quite clear. [Aparajito (The Unconquered)] … confirms the significance of the two influences we perceived two years ago at Cannes in Pather panchali (The Song of the Road), the first episode of the trilogy: first, the Zavattini and De Sica of Bicycle Thief and The Children Are Watching Us …, and, second, the lyric documentary quality of Flaherty and of the Renoir of The River. But Ray's "universities"—in the Gorkian sense—are wider and more extensive….

Aparajito is not, in fact, the story of a maternal love, of a mother who sees the withdrawal of the object of her love, but a story, or, better, part of a story, of greater scope and views: it represents a portion of the "human comedy" of modern India. Ray's artistic method … is descriptive rather than narrative … and uncertainties of cinematic language are discernible here and there, though moments of great poetry are not lacking and there is an extremely apposite sound track in which music assumes a creative character in expressing situations and feelings. The final shot of Apu seated under the centuries-old tree, with its roots almost out of the ground, is unforgettable in its implied and expressed meanings: the mother is dead but there remains in the son the certainty of his having chosen the right road. (p. 9)

Guido Aristarco, "Three Tendencies: A Postscript to the Venice Film Festival," in Film Culture (copyright 1957 by Film Culture), Vol. III, No. 5, December, 1957, pp. 7-9.∗