Sog.: tratto dai romanzi Pather Panchali e Aparajito di Bibhutibhusan Banerjee. Scen.: Satyajit Ray. F.: Subrata Mitra. M.: Dulal Dutta. Scgf.: Bansi Chandragupta. Mus.: Ravi Shankar. Int.: Kanu Banerjee (Harihar, padre di Apu), Karuna Banerjee (Sarbajaya, madre di Apu), Pinaki Sengupta (Apu studente), Smaran Ghosal (Apu adolescente), Ramani Sengupta (Bhabataran), Charuprakash Ghosh (Nanda-babu), Subodh Ganguli (il preside), Moni Srimani (l’ispettore scolastico), Hemanta Chatterjee (l’insegnante). Prod.: Epic Productions · DCP. Bn.
Thinking of someone means making that person come back as an image on a backdrop of absence (their body). It is Ray’s first approach – and especially in Aparajito, between mother and son, countryside and city – to filling a void, to bridging the gap between distances, both real and emotional, between a distant body (the outside) and its nearby image (within). It is a way of making the other come back, make him present, but it is also, with the exchange of inside and outside (an image instead of a body), the consummation of a first phase of mourning. In Aparajito, the stern and pensive face of the mother emerges at the end of a camera motion that embraces the whole body. Facial close-ups are not the result of editing but of the camera, making it a point of narrative ellipsis into which the flow of a sequence systematically fades (its open conclusion), as if the character’s thought (of Apu, elsewhere) dissolves quietly and bitterly in a long fade to black, heralding her own death.
For Ray, making an image – or better: having an image – is thinking of someone, is offering a world that, in the natural extension of such a process, makes us feel strangely closer to the person we have lost sight of. The loaded feeling of Aparajito’s images stems from that light, discreet turn of thought presiding over any image’s inscription in reality. If in Ray reality is met, it is not so much due to thinking about it before getting there (prudent reluctance) as much to the experience of the world (celebrating its presence) making it so that sooner or later one thinks about it: another way for the character to historicize him or herself in it via the experience of death. Because leaving, losing sight of another within the perspective of a long trip, means truly feeling the flow of death pass through you that only the mind can then reabsorb. If a character abandons himself to thought, the sensation of death is already within him. For Ray, processing mourning, at the thought’s beginning, is the connection between the character and the world.
Charles Tesson, Satyajit Ray, Cahiers du Cinéma, Paris 1992