In the 1920s, two women (Judy Davis, Peggy Ashcroft) journey from England to India where their fiancé and son is a magistrate; eventually, they befriend a doctor (Victor Banerjee), but it has startling consequences… Director David Lean’s last film (after a 14-year long break) was based on a book and a play adaptation putting colonial India on display in all its glory. The material fits him very well; the film has romantic beauty, but it also shows the deep injustice of that society, symbolized by the humiliating treatment that an ambitious Indian man is subjected to after trying to please the British. It’s weird to see Alec Guinness as an enigmatic Indian scholar, but the cast is uniformly superior.
1984-Britain. 163 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by John Brabourne, Richard Goodwin. Written and directed by David Lean. Novel: E.M. Forster. Play: Santha Rama Rau. Cinematography: Ernest Day. Music: Maurice Jarre. Cast: Judy Davis (Adela Quested), Victor Banerjee (Aziz Ahmed), Peggy Ashcroft (Mrs. Moore), James Fox, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers.
Trivia: At one point, Satyajit Ray was hoping to direct the film.
Oscars: Best Supporting Actress (Ashcroft), Original Score. Golden Globes: Best Supporting Actress (Ashcroft), Original Score, Foreign Film. BAFTA: Best Actress (Ashcroft).
Last word: “[Forster’s] a writer, I’m a film maker. I like movies, and I’ve tried to make a movie that I would like to see. The end is different, certainly, but I think I wouldn’t be ashamed for Forster to read the script. I think I stuck with his characters, and on the whole, given the limitations of time, I mean what’s one doing? One’s doing something in 2 hours, a book that thick, its a sort of sketch of it, and I’m extracting a movie from it. Those who want to read Forster, read the book. Those who want to go to a movie, and don’t read, come and see our film.” (Lean, BBC Newsnight)