Passage to India" on DVD
Lean's Last Epic
David Lean's 1984 epic has all the ingredients of his earlier epics,
yet despite that - and despite it being a very good movie overall - it
just doesn't quite match some of his other great films.
Of course, David Lean is a tough act to follow, even if you're David
Lean, and even a Lean film that isn't his best is still far better than
average. A Passage to India still managed to be nominated for 11 Oscars,
The story is that of Adela Quested (Judy Davis), a young British girl
who travels to India to see her fiance. She's accompanied on the journey
by his mother Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft, who won Best Supporting Actress
for her portrayal), and both of them are charmed by and caught up in the
Indian experience. They're also more than a tad bothered by the British
attitude toward the "natives," a disdainful racism that's so obvious the
Indians are constantly having their faces rubbed in it.
Adela and Mrs. Moore meet and befriend a young native Dr. Aziz (Victor
Bannerjee), a handsome and classy individual if there ever were one. He
knows his place, but is also charmed by the English women and works hard
to cultivate their friendship.
He takes them on a picnic trip to a nearby set of caves, which turn out
to be rather mundane caves in a typically eye-popping Lean landscape,
though famous for their strange echos. Then something goes seriously wrong,
as Adela runs in fright from the caves and Dr. Aziz.
The incident results in Dr. Aziz being accused of having raped Adela
who, apparently for reasons of youth, emotional shock, and peer pressure,
allows the accusation to stand.
Here the movie becomes a courtroom drama showcasing the Indians' and
Brits' mutual distrust and dislike - but in the end it all works out,
well, you'll have to see how they tie things up.
Sir David Lean appears to have been more heavily involved in "A Passage
to India" than in his other epics like "Lawrence of Arabia, " "Bridge on the River Kwai," and "Dr.
Zhivago," because not only does he direct "Passage," he also wrote the
screenplay and edited the film.
This movie might be a good introduction to the films of David Lean. Since
it's weaker in some ways than his other epics, yet still highly enjoyable,
it can give the Lean neophyte a good starting point to move onto the other
BIG Lean movies that will only enhance their enjoyment even more.
The filming is typical Lean, with plenty of extras, gorgeous shots and
colors, and wonderful performances by a perfect cast. As one might expect,
the movie looks glorious on DVD as well. Columbia Tristar has released
it in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and in Dolby Digital
surround and the picture and sound quality are excellent.
Surprisingly, considering the 2.35:1 aspect ratio Lean used on his other
epics, "Passage" is shot at 1.85:1. The result on a widescreen TV, however,
is a picture that completely fills the screen, with no black bars. They've
also use the surround channels to good effect, surrounding you with ambience
that helps make you feel as if you're really there.
Extras include "Reflections of David Lean," a video look inside the head
of the honored director, talent files, production notes, and some bonus
A must see DVD if you're a fan of "BIG MOVIES."
A Passage to India, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
164 min, widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital Surround
Starring Judy Davis, Peggy Ashcroft, Victor Bannerjee, James Fox, Alec
Produced by John Brabourne and Richard Goodwin
Written and directed by David Lean.
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