A Passage to India

1984

Adventure / Drama / History

A Passage to India (1984) download yts

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Alec Guinness as Godbole
Judy Davis as Adela
James Fox as Fielding
Saeed Jaffrey as Hamidullah
720p 1080p
1.15 GB
1280*720
PG
23.976 fps
2hr 44 min
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2.47 GB
1920*1080
PG
23.976 fps
2hr 44 min
P/S Unknown

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Spleen 10 / 10

Treads the borderline of historical fiction and fantasy with breathtaking skill

Never mind whether or not it's as good as "The Bridge on the River Kwai", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Doctor Zhivago", et al.; the point is, it's a great film that was clearly made by the same David Lean that made the earlier masterpieces.

The stuff that usually gets dismissed with a wave of the hand - the art direction, the music (Maurice Jarre reserved his best scores for David Lean, although there's less music here than there usually is), the photography, the editing, the indefinable assuredness of narrative flow - everything that makes up the heart and soul of cinema, in fact - is as marvellous as ever. It's amazing enough when you consider that this was Lean's first film in fourteen years. More astonishing is that it was the first film on which he's credited as editor in forty-two years. Forty-two years earlier, he was working for Michael Powell (the only other British director as good as Lean), who considered him the best editor in the world; and while Lean's wielding the scissors again after all that time may have made very little difference to his overall style, I still think there's something special - even more special than usual - about the way "A Passage to India" flows. Maybe it's that Lean adapted the screenplay, then shot it, then cut it himself, but he has such an strong feel for the pulse of the story, such an unerring feel for what follows from what, that even the several jump cuts - jump cuts are usually the most ugly, the most offensively flashy, and the most intrusive of all cinematic devices - are beautiful, natural, even classical. In a way you don't notice that they're there.

I've never heard it said that two-time collaborators Powell and Lean have much in common - and they don't. But of all David Lean's creations this one comes closest to being like a Powell and Pressburger picture. There's an element of mysticism (threatening as well as comforting) darting in and out of the story with such fleetness and subtlety that it's hard to tell when it's there and when it's not; and, of course, the incident at the caves (explained exactly as much as it needs to be, and no more) could as easily have come from one of Pressburger's scripts as from Forster's novel. If you've seen "Black Narcissus", admittedly a very different kind of film, you don't need me to draw attention to the points of similarity.

Lean's imagery may be less openly bizarre than Powell's but the effect can be much the same. "A Passage to India", although it lacks the beauty of the films of the three Lean films shot by Freddie Young, contains Lean's most disturbingly powerful shots, yet they're of such things as these: monkeys (echoed later on in the film by a startling shot of a man dressed like a monkey - actually, that IS the kind of thing I can see Powell doing), someone clutching her hand to her chest, the moon, the first raindrops of a storm hitting a dirty window pane, even water - simple cutaway shots of nothing but moonlit water.

I haven't read the book, but I do know that if you HAVE to have read the book to see what's wrong with the film, why, then, there's nothing wrong with it. I don't know how much of the book has been lost in the translation but I do know that if too much has been lost to make a rich and powerful film, then whatever has been lost has been more than adequately replaced.

Reviewed by Alec West 10 / 10

Culture and race and one thing you might not notice.

Sometimes, what you don't see can be of equal importance to what you do see in a film. David Lean's film is no exception ... but more on that later.

A film of epic quality, it follows two travelers on their journey from England to India during the Raj colonial period of the 1920s. For Adela Quested, it's her first time out of England to anywhere. For Mrs. Moore, it's a chance to visit her son, Ronny, who is expected to marry Adela during the visit. But, their visit is not without incident.

What both Adela and Mrs. Moore discover is an India ruled by British bureaucrats (Ronny being one of them, a city magistrate) who exude personal and cultural superiority over Indians. This was a shock to them since they both expected to find Indians and Britons meeting socially and on friendly terms. The only exception to that rule appears to be Fielding, principal of a college.

Through Fielding, Adela is introduced socially to Professor Godbole (a Hindu holy man) and Dr. Aziz (a Muslim physician). Mrs. Moore met Aziz in a previous scene but had not yet met Godbole until that moment. One note on that (a film flaw). During the mosque scene where Mrs. Moore meets Dr. Aziz, Aziz never once mentions his name to her ... yet later, Adela knows his name as mentioned to her by Mrs. Moore. Perhaps his name was mentioned in a brief scene that ended up on the cutting-room floor. But, that omission is trivial and in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the film.

During this social introduction, Aziz invites Mrs. Moore and Adela on a journey to the Marabar caves, a tourist destination. On the trip, and tired from all the activity, Mrs. Moore stays at the encampment near the lower caves and encourages Aziz and Adela to explore the higher caves alone.

Then, something happened ... and I won't tell you what (grin). Suffice it to say that Aziz finds himself in police custody. A court trial ensues that pits culture against culture, race against race, and clearly demonstrates the differences in attitudes between resident British citizens and Indians. But the trial's climax isn't the most moving part of the film. Lean has risen the film's denouement to a higher level ... one that leaves you smiling and crying at the same time. But what Lean does NOT mention in the film is equally interesting.

In today's world, India is beset by inter-sect angst between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and persons of other faiths. In theory, this inter-sect rivalry has been around since before India became a British colony. But, this rivalry was not mentioned once in the film. It is perhaps a testament to the novelist (E.M. Forster) and Lean to realize a potent underlying force in the story ... that British colonial rule held these rivalries in abeyance ... uniting Indians of all faiths into a common bond that eventually forced colonialism to end in India.

The film is a masterpiece on every level and remains one of my favorites of all time.

P.S. Closing comment to those (like me) who own region-free DVD players that render both PAL and NTSC DVDs. For some reason unknown to me, it's over $10 cheaper to buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk than it is from Amazon.com ... even after overseas shipping is added in. That's where I ordered mine (from the UK).

Reviewed by Robert J. Maxwell 8 / 10

East is East, West is West

David Lean wasn't an especially likable guy, despite his over-sized ears. When Guiness arrived on the set, Lean told him he'd been hoping for another actor for the part of Godbole. He was so sadistic to Sessue Hayakawa on "The Bridge on the River Quai," blaming Hayakaway's flawed English for all the delays that Hayakawa's breakdown scene was real. He was impatient with crews too, snapping at them because he was losing the light, as if it were the photographer who was turning them down.

But, whew, what a resume! From "Great Expectations" to this, his last film, and although some are slower than others there is not a clunker among them. (It's hard to believe that more than twenty years have passed since his last work.) His interests were in the story of people involved in cultural clashes and tended to be set against vast landscapes. He was in some ways like John Ford writ large. We get to know the people marching along the skylines.

"Passage to India" isn't his best film but it's a good thoughtful one, with his usual attention to details of weather, furniture, and wildlife. The imagery, as always, is striking. Near the beginning, two English ladies are having drinks on a train and the delicate conversation is suddenly interrupted by a slow, elephantine kathoom, kathoom, kathoom. The ladies look up, a bit surprised. A cut reveals the girders of a steel bridge across a river sliding past the train window. Ba-Boom. Loud and distinct but far away, like an echo of cannon fire from future revolutions. It's hard to imagine another director willing to take a chance with the splendid simplicity of a shot like that.

I'll just mention one more scene in passing, as an illustration of the point. Peggy Ashcroft, as Mrs. Moore, probably best known as the sympathetic and abused farmer's wife in "The Thirty Nine Steps", has met Alec Guiness, as Godbole, the Hindu teacher, only once, and then briefly. But after she leaves, Godbole casually refers to her as "an old soul," in the Hindu sense of one who has led many previous lives. And that's it. They don't meet again. Until an hour of two of screen time later, when Ashcroft leaves India, unaccompanied. As the train pulls slowly out of the station, she stares at the silhouette of a figure that appears on the platform and performs an elaborate ritual salute to Ashcroft. A quick closeup shows us that the figure is Godbole. The scene comes as a complete surprise. It is like watching the interplay between the ghosts of two separate cultures.

I don't know if I should have used that trope because it reminds me of a Samoan friend who found himself hitch-hiking alone at night on an Arizona highway. He was terrified of ghosts. Not Samoan ghosts, because they were back in Samoa. And not American ghosts because he could speak their language. It was the prospect of Indian ghosts that frightened him because he had no idea of what to say! Sorry.

Basically, I guess, in this story we find it almost impossible to doubt the innocence of Dr. Aziz. He's as eager to please as a child. But we have good reason to doubt Judy Davis as Adela Qwested. She isn't exactly sexually liberated, a good stiff clean English woman. When she visits a deserted temple with Kama Sutra sorts of erotic bas reliefs, her presence seems to get the resident monkeys perturbed and they screech at her until she leaves in a near panic. The film also indicates in subtle ways her attraction to Dr. Aziz. (She appears to sweat a lot when she's alone with him.) Of course he has no idea of what's going on.

The rape accusation dissolves in court, along with the dust caking the courtroom skylight as the monsoon rains begin. The English go back to England. Dr. Aziz remains bitter because his reputation is totally shot, until the end when he transcends his anger. As Godbole has been saying, "None of it matters in the long run anyway." Of course he's thinking of the really LONG long run.

The British colonials try to railroad a person of color into jail, and they fail. The theme is a familiar one to most American viewers, I would imagine, except that in American movies they don't always fail. The ending is sad but sweet and a little uplifting too, as the events at the Marabar Caves and the subsequent trial recede into the past. Time wounds all heels, they say, but there aren't any heels in this movie, except a few British racist snobs, who aren't really evil, just products of their age, as are we all. The raucous celebration of the Indians after the trial, what with the fireworks and all, are a little disturbing in light of the wars yet to come between the Hindus of India and the Moslems of Pakistan. It goes without saying that those who knew nothing of the affair -- the Indians who believe Aziz to be innocent and the British who believe him guilty -- are both guilty themselves.

I kind of miss David Lean, as long as I never had to work for him. See this movie and relax and enjoy it.

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