Picks and Pans Review: A Passage to India
Such productions as Gandhi, The Far Pavilions, The Jewel in the Crown and Heat and Dust have well established the notion that the British occupation of India was foolhardy. This adaptation of E.M. Forster's 1924 novel plays that theme once again in a movie more interesting for its style than its content. Director David Lean, 76, has among his credits The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, and Passage is full of his trademark vistas, which are often breathtaking. There are striking performances too. Dame Peggy (Sunday Bloody Sunday) Ashcroft is a model of controlled anxiety as a woman in India visiting her petty bureaucrat son. Indian actor Victor Banerjee symbolizes ambivalence as a doctor who loathes the English even as he tries to become more like them. Judy (My Brilliant Career) Davis, as Ashcroft's prospective daughter-in-law, James (Greystoke) Fox, as a college professor with a conscience, and Sir Alec Guinness, as an Indian mystic, are all fascinating. The movie seems very long, however, at 163 minutes, and the climax, involving Banerjee's trial for attempting to rape Davis, is a tempest in a Darjeeling pot. Ultimately this film is too much like the British mentality its creators deplore; there are moments of real elegance and dignity, but there is too much pomp, not enough circumstance. (PG)
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