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Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Passage To India (1984)

In 1920s India which is still under British colonial rule, an elderly woman (Peggy Ashcroft) visits India along with the young woman (Judy Davis) who is expected to marry her son (Nigel Havers), the magistrate of a small provincial town. The young woman who is unsure if she wants to marry is enjoying the sense of adventure she feels in India but a fateful encounter at the Marabar caves will have tragic consequences for all concerned. Based on the 1924 novel by E.M. Forster (A ROOM WITH A VIEW) about  the British colonialists contempt for and disassociation from the very people whose country they are governing, this was the last film directed by David Lean and a better swan song, one could not have hoped for. Intelligent and literate but never stuffy, Lean never lets the landscapes overpower the intimate story which was problematic for his prior film, RYAN'S DAUGHTER. Eschewing his usual cinematographer Freddie Young, Ernest Day takes charge of the lensing shooting in a modest 1.85 ratio rather than scope. Apparently Lean wanted to shoot the film in scope but HBO which invested money in the film wanted a more TV friendly format. With the exception of Alec Guinness in a rare bad performance, the acting is excellent with Ashcroft (in an Oscar winning performance) especially splendid. With Art Malik, Saeed Jaffrey and Roshan Seth.

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