THE APU TRILOGY / APUR SANSAR (Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1959, India) – The Wandering Soul

The Wandering Soul – A Video Essay on Apur Sansar (1959) by Omar ahmed

Film bloggers are evolving rapidly in the ways in which they analyse and appreciate film culture. The emergence of the video essay over the past few years has led to more a more visually sophisticated means of articulating close analysis of film directors, films and genres. The video essay in terms of film criticism seems to be an area that could lead to exciting creativity for cinephiles but putting together this first attempt at my own video essay on one of my personal favourites (Apur Sansar) has been a real learning curve in many ways. Constructing a video essay is certainly more demanding than the usual blog entry as it means effectively splicing in your own commentary alongside the film sequence you are analysing. It takes a lot of time and patience, and I’m not sure how successful I have been with my deconstruction. Admittedly, the video essay could have done with edits to different examples from Ray’s work but had I chosen to do this it would evolved into a mini project. Video essay work requires a different kind of approach if you are relying on text floating across the screen. I stepped back from the voice over option because a critical voice over commentary requires a certain gravitas – in fact it requires a degree of performance and acting. I will certainly give it a shot later on once I know how to record an effective voice over and it certainly seems to be the more popular option with film bloggers. Nevertheless, here is my first attempt at a video essay on Apur Sansar (1959), the final part of The Apu Trilogy. I have chosen one of the final sequences (a personal favourite) in which Apu attempts suicide and then renounces life. The other problem with video essays is that of copyright and whilst I don’t have permission to use this footage from the Artificial Eye DVD I have done so within an educational/film culture context so it will be interesting to see how long it takes before someone pulls the video. On a final note, the biggest difference between traditional blogging and video essays is to do with economy – with video essays you are against the clock (unless you keep freezing the image for a lengthy discussion) and this means having to be succinct and show great brevity.


6 thoughts on “THE APU TRILOGY / APUR SANSAR (Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1959, India) – The Wandering Soul

  1. Thank you for your kind words, Catherine! It took a while to put it all together. A great learning process – considering a video essay on Ray's Jalsaghar / The Music Room next…


  2. This is totally brilliant, Omar. Amazing debut and I look forward to more! Makes me want to try it out myself. Could you tell me what software(s) did you use?

    You are spot on about the return to nature. Sarbojaya says in the first film that she wants to move out of her house because she feels it is like living in a jungle. And Apu returning to it just closes a circle of sorts.


  3. Hey JAFB, thanks for the nice comments. I think you should give it a go, would love to see one from you on the films on Mani Kaul perhaps – video essay style.

    I used an iMac to create the video essay. Before importing the sequence into iMovie (standard kit for the mac), I had to extract the sequence from the DVD. This was relatively straight forward – both Handbrake & the Aimersoft Video Converter Ultimate Version are up to the task. I think I used Handbrake. Once the sequence is in iMovie, you have a lot of flexibility to add titles, shorten the length of the sequence, create different edits and titles screens. You can also record a voice over straight into iMovie which is also very useful. I hate to sound like an extended plug for Apple but an iMac using either iMovie or Final Cut are simply very user friendly.
    After you have finished your completed essay, iMovie allows you to directly upload your video straight to VIMEO or YOUTUBE if you prefer.

    It was a trial and error process for me but it was very enjoyable too, and creative. Hope this throws some light on the issue of video essaying.


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