A Song of Human Empathy: Reflecting on The Apu Trilogy’s Restoration
Everything I’m going to write here pales in comparison to Roger Ebert’s great insight in that clip above. He calls movies “a machine that generates empathy.” That’s an idea that’s stuck with me for a long time and through many movies. It might not be the first thing that leaps to mind when I consider something like Mad Max, but it’s always there. No matter how poorly crafted or cynically conceived, every movie has the capacity to connect us with the experiences of others. Most of the time that’s engaged simply to get us cheering for the protagonist and jeering at the antagonist, but our capacity for empathy can go far beyond that. It can make us stare without blinking at our own awful past. It can make us consider the furthest stretches of our capacity for love and connection. Or it can make us sit down, eat some popcorn, and see a way of life that is both utterly foreign and thoroughly recognizable. That’s exactly what I did last week when I took in the sterling 4K restoration Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy at The Music Box Theatre.
I wrote the above paragraph on the night of Tuesday, June 16th. The next night a white supremacist terrorist took nine innocent lives in Charleston, South Carolina because he hated them for their skin color. That attack has shaken me up and brought about a significant rewrite to the rest of this piece.