High Museum of Art: Films

Revisiting the Raj by Linda Dubler
August 28, 2009, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Film Series: High, Guest Blogger, Review | Tags: , , , , ,

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

There is India, as in the India true Indians know. And then there is the India according Great Britain. As in The Raj. As in, the sun never sets… Our Treasures From India’s National Film Development Corporation series, which ends September 13, looks at India as portrayed by people from India. But should you be feeling the need to consider the colonialist past, here are some suggestions:

A Passage to India

Not the crown jewel in David Lean’s filmography, but a perfectly respectable entry. Two Englishwomen, played by Judy Davis and Dame Peggy Ashcroft (best supporting actress Oscar), travel to India where Davis will decide whether to marry Ashcroft’s son. On a side-trip to discover the “real” India, something happens to the older woman. Something, in her blathering account, unspeakably ancient and evil. The film reminds you of Lean’s twin gifts for detail and scope. He’s not bad with actors, either.

Heat and Dust

Heat and Dust

Heat and Dust

Granted, there may be more dust than heat in this civilized-to-the-extreme film about two other women’s passage to India. In “modern” time (1982), Julie Christie follows in the footsteps of her great-aunt who found a certain rajah irresistible in the 1920s. The movie time warps back and forth between their reflecting stories. More than a bit languid and tasteful to a fault, the film is nonetheless quite beautiful and a fine showcase for Ms. Christie who’d been absent from the screen for a few years.

A Little Princess

A Little Princess

A Little Princess

Though mostly set in a grim post-Victorian boarding school, this adaptation of a children’s classic from Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men)  begins in India and is haunted by visions of that country’s lushness and color throughout. When World War I summons her father, little Sara is transported from India to a miserable place straight out of Dickens. Think, Annie by way of Oliver Twist.  Despite its being shot on a soundstage, you can all but smell the saffron.

The Man Who Would Be King

Again, the action mostly takes place elsewhere, but John Huston’s grandly adventurous picture is permeated by the traditions of colonial England. Two rogues (Sean Connery and Michael Caine) tell the writer Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer) that they are off to find and take over a remote kingdom. And so they do…with disastrous results. Huston had long wanted to film Kipling’s tale and originally envisioned Humprey Bogart and Clark Gable as the leads.

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where can i obtain a copy of heat and dust; have wanted to see it for years.

Comment by ujb

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