A Passage to India

David Lean?s visually stunning film version of E. M. Forster?s A Passage to India was recently released in a Collector?s Edition to coincide with the centennial of the legendary director?s birth. The 1984 epic, starring Judy Davis and Peggy Ashcroft, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (it won 2) and was the last film directed by Lean (whose other credits include Oliver Twist, Summertime, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago). An exploration of misunderstandings between British imperials and Indian locals, Lean?s film is a largely faithful adaptation of Forster?s last novel, published in 1924. In addition to the restored and digitally remastered film, the two-DVD set includes cast interviews, a Forster retrospective, and insightful commentary from Lean and producer Richard Goodwin. (The latter describes the difficulty of shooting in India: “The big problem is crowd control. There are so many people who want to come and watch everything that it becomes impossible to film”; a closed set was built in Bangalore to manage the shooting of certain scenes.) Lean, who died in 1991, discusses how his artistic license drew the ire of some Forster scholars. “I said, ‘I?m going to make a movie that with luck will be remembered for two or three years. There?s always the book, and those who are offended by the idea of making a movie of this classic, don?t have to see it. They?ll always have the book.’ ” Both, in their own ways, remain classics of their kind.