The Unvanquished

India 1956, 110 mins
Director: Satyajit Ray

In the second part of the Apu trilogy, Ray captures the pulsating spirit of the ancient city of Varanasi where Apu grows from child to adolescent. After his father’s death, Apu leaves to study in Calcutta, insensitive to his mother’s hard work to find money. Ray took bold artistic departures from the original novel, particularly in the strained mother-son relationship, and exquisite imagery and music brought epic dimensions to the film.

A contemporary review
This is the second film of Satyajit Ray’s trilogy which began with the remarkable Pather Panchali. The boy Apu proceeds a little further along the road of experience; and the viewpoint of the film changes with his. Life is different now, and it is not merely the changes of scene which make it so. The voices of authority are the cultured scathings of the university teachers, no longer the squalling abuse of Mrs Muckerjee next door. Trains are no longer wonderful apparitions in enchanted paddy fields, but the familiar instruments of enlargement, of communication and separation. As town life grows to include not just streets and cars and electric light, but also friends, and village life shrinks in what it can offer. So, as the film goes on, does Apu’s mother seem smaller, less the mistress of every situation, no longer necessary to her son.

While Pather Panchali was primarily a matter of experiences, Aparajito shows Apu more in his personal and human relationships – above all in his changing relationship with his mother. The theme of the sacrifice which parents may make in equipping their children for a world which they can never really share – universal enough in itself – has rarely, if ever, been tackled by the Western cinemas, though in Japan Ozu has devoted 25 years and almost all his works to the exploration of this particular family relationship. Ray observes it all with remarkable insight and discretion; the mother overcomes her momentary unwillingness to give up her son to himself and his future; later, when she has given up the chance to have him beside her as she is dying, she has forlorn hopes and imaginings, as she hears the trains come by, that this last piece of self-sacrifice will not really be required of her. Apu’s momentary recognitions, his tactful deceit when he pretends to have missed the train, in order to make up for his roughness towards her, are equally real and touching. It is this observation and insight which makes Ray’s work so universal, and which show him as a director of outstanding promise, as well as achievement.
Monthly Film Bulletin, March 1958

Director: Satyajit Ray
Production Company: Epic Films
Screenplay: Satyajit Ray
Based on the novel Aparajita by: Bibhutibhusan Banerjee
Director of Photography: Subrata Mitra
Editor: Dulal Dutta
Art Director: Bansi Chandragupta
Music: Ravi Shankar
Sound: Durgadas Mitra

Kanu Banerjee (Harihar Ray)
Karuna Banerjee (Sarbajaya)
Pinaki Sen Gupta (Apu, the boy)
Smaran Ghosal (Apu, the adolescent)
Santi Gupta (Lahiri’s wife)
Ramani Sen Gupta (Bhabataran)
Ranibala (Teli)
Sudipta Roy (Nirupama)
Ajay Mitra (Anil)
Charuprakash Ghosh (Nanda)
Subodh Ganguli (headmaster)
Moni Srimani (inspector)
Hemanta Chatterjee (professor)
Kali Banerjee (Kathak)
Kalicharan Roy (Akhil, press proprietor)
Kamala Adhikari (Moksada)
Lalchand Banerjee (Lahiri)
K.S. Pandey (Pandey)
Meenaksi Devi (Pandey’s wife)
Anil Mukherjee (Abinash)
Harendrakumar Chakravarti (doctor)
Bhaganu Palwan (Palwan)

India 1956
110 mins

New 4K restoration made by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


The Philosopher’s Stone (Parash Pathar)
Fri 1 Jul 20:35; Sun 10 Jul 18:20
The Zoo (Chiriyakhana)
Sat 2 Jul 12:00; Sun 10 Jul 12:20
The Adversary (Pratidwandi)
Sat 2 Jul 15:10; Sun 10 Jul 15:30
Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road)
Sun 3 Jul 18:20; Sat 9 Jul 12:00; Sat 30 Jul 14:30
The Film Language of Satyajit Ray
Wed 6 Jul 18:00
The Middleman (Jana Aranya)
Wed 6 Jul 20:20; Sun 24 Jul 18:10
Two Daughters: The Postmaster and Samapti (The Conclusion) + intro by Aparna Sen
Thu 7 Jul 17:50
The Unvanquished (Aparajito)
Sat 9 Jul 15:00; Thu 14 Jul 18:15; Sat 30 Jul 17:40
The World of Apu (Apur Sansar)
Sat 9 Jul 17:50; Sat 16 Jul 20:45; Sat 30 Jul 20:30 + pre-recorded intro
Raahgir (The Wayfarers)
Mon 11 Jul 18:00
Company Limited (Seemabaddha)
Wed 13 Jul 18:20; Tue 26 Jul 20:45
Satyajit Ray: His Home and the World
Sat 16 Jul 12:00-17:00
Satyajit Ray Documentaries Programme 1: Rabindranath Tagore + The Inner Eye + Sukumar Ray
Sat 16 Jul 18:30; Sun 31 Jul 12:00
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha Goopy (Gyne ar Bagha Byne)
Sun 17 Jul 13:00; Sat 23 Jul 12:10
The Golden Fortress (Sonar Kella)
Sun 17 Jul 15:40; Wed 27 Jul 18:00
Branches of the Tree (Shakha Proshakha)
Sun 17 Jul 18:10; Sat 30 Jul 12:20
The Kingdom of Diamonds (Hirak Rajar Deshe)
Mon 18 Jul 18:10; Sat 23 Jul 14:50
Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God)
Tue 19 Jul 18:10; Mon 25 Jul 20:40
The Stranger (Agantuk)
Thu 21 Jul 20:40; Sun 31 Jul 18:20

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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