After a major 4k restoration conducted on three continents, Satyajit Ray’s “The Apu Trilogy” is finally making its anticipated return to the big screen this summer courtesy of distributor Janus Films. If the quoted praise from major directors like Akira Kurosawa, Michelangelo Antonioni and Mira Nair wasn’t enough, the new trailer for the drama’s revival poignantly highlights the decades-long journey to digitally restore the film from severely damaged negatives.
Whatever was left of the original negatives after a 1993 nitrate fire was salvaged by the Academy Film Archive, and it wasn’t until the technology improved that a digital restoration was made possible. The Criterion Collection teamed up with L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, one of the world’s premiere restoration facilities, to bring the film back to life. Emphasis for the restoration was placed on retaining the look and character of the original material. New subtitles were also created.
The trilogy, made up of “Pather Panchali” (“Sons of the Little Road”), “Aparajito” (“The Unvanquished”) and “Apur Sansar” (“The World of Apu”), is famous for bringing India into the golden age of international arthouse cinema. Based on two books by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee and shot over the course of five years with different actors playing the maturing Apu, the films follow a free-spirited child in rural Bengal who matures into an adolescent urban student and a sensitive man of the world.
Janus Films will begin a national re-release in New York City at Film Forum on Friday, May 8 and in Los Angeles at Landmark’s Nuart Theater on Friday, May 29. The films will play at the country’s top arthouse cinemas throughout the summer.