Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Judy Davis
Victor Banerjee
Peggy Ashcroft
James Fox.
Directors
David Lean.
Screenwriters
David Lean.
Running Time
163 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Unfinished Business
2 Star Empire Rating
High Tide
3 Star Empire Rating
Blind
4 Star Empire Rating
A Second Chance
2 Star Empire Rating
Dreamcatcher
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
EMPIRE ESSAY: When Harry Met Sally
5 Star Empire Rating

A Passage To India


submit to reddit


Plot
Based on E.M. Forster’s novel of 1924 British ex-pats in India, where skittish Adela Quested accuses a local doctor of raping her. As the case comes to court, racial tensions come to a boil, as her memory of the event becomes increasingly vague.


Review

The return, after 13 self-imposed years of exile, of fabled director David Lean was everything we would have expected and, yet, a disappointment. Perhaps, it was the choice of material, a much more internalised story despite its glossy Raj setting, or the absence of Robert Bolt as screenwriter (it was he who put the fire in Lean’s belly), but the film, for all Lean’s innate elegance, is strangely remote and unmoving. It could easily have been a Merchant-Ivory film.

Lean notoriously battled with headstrong lead actress Judy Davies over his old-fashioned approach to female characters. She wanted to invest the complicated Adela with more dynamism, to give her variance some potency; Lean wanted her weak and confused. She emerges as neither. Where Lawrence was part-mad; Zhivago consumed by his own passion; Adela is a bit wet. He was also up to his old naive tricks by casting Alec Guinness as the whimsical-wise Hindi sage Dr. Godbhole — he is perfectly mild and beguiling, but you really can’t get away with this in the mid-80s. Victor Banerjee proves energetic but hardly astounding as the innocent doctor at the hub of the film’s racial crisis. It takes the stoic Peggy Ashcroft to give the film a heart, the immaculate Brit visiting her son, who peers distressed at the ensuring madness from the outside.
 
Lean is so good on a big canvas, his shots of elephant parades and the wild caves of the sunny picnic that would turn so sour, are typically vivid, but this is a film of manners, from a director who should be capturing the untamed sweeps of history. When the film is finally is absorbed by the racial conflict, the strange court-case that will impact on all the souls around — a top-notch range of British and Indian actors — it becomes laggardly, what energy there was seeping away, as if the camera was as afflicted by that airless courtroom as the characters. And no matter how stirring Maurice Jarre’s slightly misjudged score or refined the literary adaptation, Lean’s majesty had departed, those long years of isolation had told.




Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Showrunner Beau Willimon Reveals 8 House Of Cards Secrets
On Kevin Spacey’s dog-dispatching and more…

21 Great Movie Cons
Fleece your friends with these duplicitous devices...

Empire Podcast 150: Margot Robbie
The Focus (and Wolf Of Wall Street) star from the Top Gear track...

Empire's New Spectre Issue Covers
First look at Bond 24 in Empire's April issue

Vote For The Jameson Empire Awards 2015!
Your mission is clear...

Sleeping Beauties: The Story Behind 12 Of Cinema's Unlikeliest Hits
They came, they saw, they surprisingly conquered

Writer / Director Dan Gilroy Reveals 8 Nightcrawler Secrets
On Jake Gyllenhaal's hand-slicing mirror smash and more...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)