A Passage to India (1984) is a English,Hindi movie. David Lean has directed this movie. Judy Davis,Victor Banerjee,Peggy Ashcroft,James Fox are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1984. A Passage to India (1984) is considered one of the best Adventure,Drama,History movie in India and around the world.
It's the early 1920s. Britons Adela Quested (Judy Davis) and her probable future mother-in-law Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft) have just arrived in Chandrapore in British India to visit Adela's unofficial betrothed, Ronny Heaslop (Nigel Havers), who works there as the city's magistrate. Adela and Mrs. Moore, who long for "an adventure" in experiencing all India has to offer, are dismayed to learn upon their arrival that the ruling British do not socialize, let alone associate, with the native population. Such people as the Turtons, Mr. Turton (Richard Wilson) being Ronny's superior, who openly thumb their noses at the idea in their belief that the Indians are an inferior people. They are further dismayed to see that Ronny adheres to that custom in not wanting to jeopardize his career. At the local white only club, Adela and Mrs. Moore find a like-minded Brit in the form of Richard Fielding (James Fox), the school master at government college, he who offers to organize a small, but truly ...
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Steven Spielberg claimed his greatest inspiration in becoming a director was Sir David Lean. In motivating him in making a film, a Lean epic would lift his spirits and inspire ideas. Evidence of his marks of appreciations are in famous Indiana Jones shots, an eye for breathtaking vistas - Empire Of The Sun being most evident (which was originally a David Lean project). The legendary British director, who's larger than life approach to film exhilarated audiences around the globe with immortal classics as 'The Bridge On The River Kwai', 'Lawrence Of Arabia' and 'Doctor Zhivago', made an unexpected return in 1984, 22 years following the last epic with one of the most mythically dream like productions ever to grace the silver screen. He took us on a journey to picturesque India with his trademark scope in crisp cinematography which filled our lungs with the most breathtaking scenery. The new generation must rediscover the works of this great human being who bestowed upon us some of the most memorable, fantastic, larger than life epic experiences that have inspired countless directors in their work. 'A Passage To India' is no exception. It is a heart-wrenching, nightmarishly beautiful film, at the same time so dream like, it transports you to another world that penetrates through the spirit of self discovery. Reminiscent of a famous Australian film "Picnic At Hanging Rock" containing similar themes, a masterpiece directed by the poetic film maker Peter Weir, this powerful entry is one of the most memorable films of the 1980's. The film follows the intersection of two unlikely people, English lady Ms. Adela Quested (Judy Davis) and an Indian man Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee) during India's British rule in the roaring twenties. It is Adela's first time out of England as she is on her way to visit India to meet her fiancé who's a judge in colonial British territory. Accompanying her is her friend and future mother in law Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft) who shares common interests with Adela in wanting to see real India - in experiencing the countryside and meeting real Indians. To their astonishment however, they soon realize that the occupying English populace aren't as enthusiastic about the idea of making close contact with these everyday Indians, believing India is best experienced at a distance. But to Adela's hesitation to her surroundings, she insists on organizing an expedition for sight-seeing. Her new found friend and school teacher Richard Fielding (James Fox) assembles a group of well-read, knowledgeable Indians to guide them throughout the expedition, composing Professor Godbole (Alec Guiness) and Dr. Aziz (who by chance acquainted himself with Mrs. Moore the previous night). It isn't long before Adela and Aziz begin to explore interests in one another, but in an untouched natural overwhelming utopia that is India, what happens to Adela in a mystical cave far from home ends as a controversy that threatens to tear Indian/British relations into chaos. The film explores the themes of repression, illusion, racism, tolerance, forgiveness, self-discovery and justice all piled up into an unforgettable symbolically and visually breathtaking masterpiece. What we have here is one of the most emotionally engaging character studies in film history. The film's setting is genius in portraying self discovery in an unfamiliar place far from home. Like in 'Picnic At Hanging Rock', there is strong emphasis on repression and loss of place and time, creating a most delusional reality. Most importantly, it points out the political oppression to perfection, clearly showing English attitudes toward the very people they invaded. Human nature is the film's primary focus. Adele Quested and Dr. Aziz both learn important lessons the hard way, but never-the-less become stronger human beings. This almost mythical film absolutely drew me into this world David Lean so brilliantly brought to the screen. One of the films greatest highlights was the moving, magical, subtle and haunting score composed by legendary Maurice Jarre. It influenced the film's atmosphere so vividly, it fascinates every time I hear it. The cinematography came as no surprise to me and this is David Lean at his indisputable best. I was left grasping for air following the film's poignant conclusion. You feel almost like you're there every time. He is the master at creating an unforgettable atmosphere on an epic scale. This film was literally like a Passage To India. The cast was expertly selected. Judy Davis is perhaps one the greatest actresses that ever walked into a film set. Her commanding physical presence extracts such unforgettable performances, it leaves people in awe of her talent. Her portrayal of Adela is extremely realistic and you feel her emotions with such power. James Fox turns in a very convincing performance as the man who stands for justice, for those who can't gain it. Alec Guiness is arguably out of place as an Indian scholar, but I believe he brought a nice touch to the film - he is one of the greatest actors in the world. Besides, his role wasn't big enough to criticize. Peggy Ashcroft gave in a marvelous performance of a woman who sees the injustices only too well and can't stand the fact that little is being done to compromise. Everything about this film suggests it is the makings of a true artist. And everything about this film suggests that David Lean was a perfectionist who never lost his touch. It is easily one of the most beautiful, haunting, mystical and awe inspiring films ever made. I recommend it to anybody who loves film and better yet, to whoever hasn't seen a David Lean film before. This is the perfect place to start.
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.
In 1885 Lord Macaulay in very planned way introduced English as an official language of India, a plan equally dangerous like thousand years of third Reich in Europe. Macaulay himself explained during a speech in Kolkata in 1885 that "I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. He added "with such a high moral, spiritual cultural heritage and ancient Aryan education system (Language Sanskrit) I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of education system of this nation. However Macaulay's language experiment resulted very strange. It not only fractured the complex Indian society but divided the schools of thought into fraction. In movie Dr.Aziz symbolically represents the agonised face of so called modern educated Indians. The director of this movie is very talented person who exactly know this problem. Now what exactly happening in the movie is a British young woman fascinated with ideas of elephants, snakes, tropical forests and mysteries is travelling across India. Moreover she is young and deep inside she is contemplating the true meaning of love. While in India she meets Dr. Aziz who on other hand is a product of Macaulay's language experiment. Dr Aziz is an educated person who has nothing to with Indian national movement (background is of decade of 20's) or in other words he is a simple nice Muslim man who do his job, earn comparatively better than other poor Indians and has a good social status in the local community. However he remains depressed with the surrounding atmosphere which is full of dirt, poor people etc. Symbolically he is a face of new crop who thinks and if given a chance, act like elite English. Unfortunately since he is just an average person and not an intellectual, he can not see that a British who is a foreigner in his country do not see any difference between him and other poor. He works hard and do not miss any opportunity to proof that their is a difference and it exist. Movie reaches to the height of climax when Dr. Aziz gets an opportunity to take Ms Quested to an excursion to Malabar caves. And then comes the most beautiful, suspenseful and artistic scene of the movie. For few moment in that silent lazy afternoon, Ms Quested learn during an exceptional personal interaction (An interaction which was not supposed to be happened between an Indian and a English) about Dr. Aziz's love for his wife who died few years back. Already hypnotised and surprised with the Indian culture she gets locked with a strange feeling when she learn that Dr, Aziz never saw his wife before getting married. Back to her life she never imagined if being in love/marriage with someone whom you have never seen was possible. After all due to her basic human tendency, she for a fraction of moment imagined Dr. Aziz as a perfect man. Her extreme imagination takes her to indefinite trauma and suddenly everything looks ugly, horrible, dark and hopeless. Now gushed with guilt feeling she can not justify her imaginations in a real world. In case of Dr. Aziz he is again in a gloomy world because Ms Quested without giving any notice is now out of his reach. An innocent human to human interaction becomes a case of racial dominance & national extremism. Fanatic Indians have coloured it with Indian national moment whereas British are convinced that Indians doesn't matter educated or uneducated are on same line. Ironically Dr. Aziz who is surprised, frustrated due to silence of Miss Quested is no longer an old simple man. He too now believes that English are corrupting his country. Ms. Nobody knows the internal truth.
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.
Films based on novels (as in this case) must rely on screenplays which condense the material, and supply either voice-overs, or visuals to explain what is going on in a character's head. Usually, a voice-over is a cop-out. David Lean has provided a brilliant substitute for a voice-over in the scene where Adela wanders on her bicycle into the bush to discover a Hindu temple. A central mystery in the book as well as in the film is the ambiguity of the cause for the court case. Forster said that judgment was up to the reader. Lean was a reader, and in my view, he made his decision, and provided us with a clue in that scene (which is not in the book). Here is that scene: Adela leaves the safe British compound on an exploratory trip with a bicycle. She leaves the highway, and cycles down a path through the weeds. The sign- post, which had appeared quite natural when she looked at it, now looks like a Christian Cross when she leaves the road and goes down the path. The music changes from a major key to the minor, suggesting mystery, or menace. She is leaving her familiar culture and riding into the unknown. She sees a fallen sculpture. A voluptuous sculpture. She doesn't turn back. As she rides farther, the weeds grow higher. She is being engulfed by India. She dismounts as she approaches a copse, and walks into the shadows. She sees a ruined Hindu temple covered with erotic sculptures. Amourous couples are coupling. She stares at these apparitions, so abandoned, and so alien to her proper Victorian up-bringing. She is attracted by the spectacle, but she is frightened by her attraction. Suddenly she hears a noise, and looks up to see a troop of monkeys. They chatter menacingly at her and begin to scamper down the temple, over the erotic sculpture, and in panic she flees. Could the monkeys symbolize that emotional, sensual, animal nature that lives in everyone but is supposed to be suppressed in Englishwomen (and American ones, for that matter!)? Are they saying, "This is our land, the land of emotion; you do not belong here"? India attracts her. It awakens hidden desires. It menaces her. She flees to the familiar, visibly shaken. Back at the bungalow, with her fiancé, she says "I want to take back what I said at the polo," which was that she wanted to delay the wedding. She was so frightened by the feelings rising in her as she tasted a bit of Indian culture that she wanted to put a stop to passion by marrying! And all of that was said in the film without words. It provides us with a rationale for believing she later suffered an hallucination, which is at the core of the plot.