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A Passage to India Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Cinescott

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I've been looking for a David Lean Blu-ray beyond Dr. Zhivago and The Bridge on the River Kwai that would tide me over until the release of Lawrence of Arabia. Well, having the first two films and A Passage to India is not a bad start.


I watched APTI yesterday for the first time in a long time, probably since its theatrical run in 1984. Seems like I've had a knack for discovering Blu-rays that have been out forever now. Part of the fun of Blu-ray admiration in general.


I've always had an interest in APTI, since it was Lean's last film and the fact that it was filmed in the more intimate 1.66:1 AR, which compared to his work from the previous 25 years, was certainly a departure.


The movie's well, pretty good. The only complaints I would have about it would be length (it could have been tightened up quite a bit, instead of 2 hours and 45 minutes) and the casting of Alec Guinness. How anyone could have cast him as a native Indian is beyond me. I understand the collaboration of Lean and Guinness went back a long ways, but even Sir David must have been aware of Guinness' popularity through his own films and the then-not-so-old Star Wars. I keep waiting for him to say "come with me to Alderaan." Tougher to suspend disbelief for sure.


Alec does his best, though and it kind of works. The rest of the cast, however is superb. Oscar-winner Peggy Ashcroft, Oscar-nominated Judy Davis, a Great Victor Banerjee as Aziz, James Fox, and others.


The story is a good one, although the whole time I kept thinking of it as a remake of "To Kill a Mockingbird" set in India. I loved the direction and the cinematography. It's fun, though, to revisit older movies that I just didn't "get" when I was younger. Seems like a lot of stuff is just easier to follow than it's ever been.


The Blu-ray itself is spectacular for anyone interested. Great transfer.
 

Douglas R

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I believe A PASSAGE TO INDIA to be one of David Lean's finest films and I never get tired of seeing it - I certainly don't think it's too long. It seems that Lean wanted to make it in widescreen (i.e. 2.35:1) but one of the main backers, HBO, wanted it in 1.66:1 because they were more interested in TV sales. I don't recall the casting of Alec Guinness to be controversial when the film was first released but unfortunately it's become an issue which everyone now points out when the film is mentioned - the problem of revisionism. It certainly is one of the very best looking Blu-ray releases.
 

Robin9

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I regard A Passage To India as a masterpiece. I don't find it too long at all. In fact I think it's one of the most perfectly paced movies ever. I agree that the Blu-ray disc is magnificent. If I was demonstrating projectors or display panels at a trade show, I would use the A Passage To India BRD to show my equipment to the best advantage.
 

Cinescott

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The length is just IMO. I don't find Lawrence of Arabia too long and that's a long movie. There's just something about this one where I felt the same information could have been relayed a lot better with less time. Doesn't work with all pacing, but I thought it would have benefited this one.


There are a lot of shots (close ups) that seem to go on a long time, particularly during the trial sequence. I'm sure it was an approach to try and boost up the drama and tension, but it just didn't happen to work with me. Not to say others wouldn't find that a good approach.


Regarding Alec Guinness, I have not to this day read a single review for this movie or the Blu-ray. That was my own view of his casting. All this is not to imply that I don't consider APTI a great movie. It is, particularly for me with the locations and acting. Masterpiece? I'll leave that designation to others.


I do like the story and seem to be attracted to a lot of Forster stories recently, having watched A Room With a View and Howards End all in the last week. Coincidence? Maybe not.
 

SD_Brian

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I've not yet seen A Passage to India but I can only imagine that Alec Guinness as an Indian would be less distracting--and certainly more tastefully handled--than Mickey Rooney as an Asian in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
 

Cinescott

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Originally Posted by SD_Brian

I've not yet seen A Passage to India but I can only imagine that Alec Guinness as an Indian would be less distracting--and certainly more tastefully handled--than Mickey Rooney as an Asian in Breakfast at Tiffany's.


LOL, agreed!

"Miss Golightly, you go too faaaaaaaaaaaar!"
 

JoHud

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Haven't seen this either. I've put off buying it while waiting for more of Lean's pictures to be released in blu-ray. Should just buy it though..

Originally Posted by SD_Brian

I've not yet seen A Passage to India but I can only imagine that Alec Guinness as an Indian would be less distracting--and certainly more tastefully handled--than Mickey Rooney as an Asian in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

If it's anything like Jack Palance's performance in The Horsemen as an Afghan, I'm sure I won't be bothered by it (Alec Guinness).
 

Dick

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Re: your question regarding other Lean films currently on Blu-ray: you can get two black ands white masterpieces from the UK on region-free discs: GREAT EXPECTATIONS and BRIEF ENCOUNTER. These look quite good, are reasonably priced, and can be found using search on AMAZON UK.
 

Douglas Monce

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Guinness was cast as an Arab prince in Lawrence, why not an Indian in Passage? A good actor should be able to play anything. Doug
 

Scott Calvert

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Had A Passage To India been made in the late 50's-early 60's it wouldn't have been an issue. But by 1983 that kind of casting was out of fashion, to put it mildly. It just looks a bit awkward and out-of-place.


Still love the movie though.
 

Douglas Monce

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Scott Calvert said:
Had A Passage To India been made in the late 50's-early 60's it wouldn't have been an issue. But by 1983 that kind of casting was out of fashion, to put it mildly. It just looks a bit awkward and out-of-place.


Still love the movie though.
Thats just politically correct non-sense. An actor is an actor and should be able to play any part. Personally I think he is a pretty convincing Indian. Doug
 

benbess

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I have not seen the film since its theatrical release in 1986. I have the blu-ray, but have not yet watched it. But when I saw it 25 years ago I felt pretty much the way Scott did--it's a wonderful film by an amazing director, but this particular piece of casting was not the best. I love everything Alec Guinness did, but I think he's better in his other roles. But maybe when I finally watch the blu-ray I'll feel differently.
 

Scott Calvert

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Originally Posted by Douglas Monce

Had A Passage To India been made in the late 50's-early 60's it wouldn't have been an issue. But by 1983 that kind of casting was out of fashion, to put it mildly. It just looks a bit awkward and out-of-place.


Still love the movie though.



Thats just politically correct non-sense. An actor is an actor and should be able to play any part. Personally I think he is a pretty convincing Indian.

Doug[/QUOTE]


Yeah, I say lets bring back blackface. Down with political correctness!
 

JohnMor

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Originally Posted by Cinescott



The story is a good one, although the whole time I kept thinking of it as a remake of "To Kill a Mockingbird" set in India.



Really? I never thought of Mockingbird as a meditation on Imperialism and cultural subjugation. Although they both have subplots involving charges of rape, they are about as different as can be, both the books and the films.


Agree with the tranfer. Gorgeous, as befits this great film.
 

Cinescott

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Originally Posted by JohnMor






Really? I never thought of Mockingbird as a meditation on Imperialism and cultural subjugation. Although they both have subplots involving charges of rape, they are about as different as can be, both the books and the films.


Agree with the tranfer. Gorgeous, as befits this great film.

While not a direct comparison, yes, I'd stand by my initial impression. Rape is hardly a subplot in either film or novel. It's a major plot point. Aziz could easily be seen as Tom Robinson, a man of "color" accused of raping a white woman.


The entire concept of British rule in India and the imposition of British law and custom could be analogous to white incursion on black culture in the South. The "quick to convict" attitude is the same in both. Also, while admittedly a bigger stretch of the imagination, Adele Quested reminded me very much of Scout. She's older, but definitely very "boyish."
 

Cinescott

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Originally Posted by Douglas Monce

Guinness was cast as an Arab prince in Lawrence, why not an Indian in Passage? A good actor should be able to play anything.

Doug


True, and I think he played this part well, but the Arab in Lawrence was less of a stretch, since it didn't require him to be painted brown. That seemed completely out-of-place to me, especially since every other cast member played a nationality close to their own. His western features are plain to see through the makeup and it's hard for me to believe him an Indian.
 

JoHud

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Originally Posted by Cinescott

Had A Passage To India been made in the late 50's-early 60's it wouldn't have been an issue. But by 1983 that kind of casting was out of fashion, to put it mildly. It just looks a bit awkward and out-of-place.

Was this also the sentiment in Britain? I've been under the impression that the British were more open to traditional acting that allowed actors to tackle a wide variety of roles and playing different races was more accepted.
 

Douglas Monce

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Scott Calvert said:
Yeah, I say lets bring back blackface. Down with political correctness!

 
I have one word for you....Tropic Thunder.....well okay thats two words but.... Doug
 

Douglas Monce

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Cinescott said:
True, and I think he played this part well, but the Arab in Lawrence was less of a stretch, since it didn't require him to be painted brown. That seemed completely out-of-place to me, especially since every other cast member played a nationality close to their own. His western features are plain to see through the makeup and it's hard for me to believe him an Indian.
He was painted brown, just not AS brown, and so was Anthony Quinn. Neither of these men look particularly Arabian. Doug
 

taoyue

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I don't know how big an issue at the time it was to have Alec Guinness. But the times were already changing by 1984. That big uproar over the casting of the Engineer in the musical Miss Saigon came only a few years later.


The novel A Passage to India was published decades before To Kill a Mockingbird. The films were produced in the opposite order, though, so both can be said to have influenced the other.
 

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