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A Passage to India
A Passage to India
A Columbia Tristar Home Video Release
1984, 164 Minutes, Color, Rated PG

Starring: Judy Davis, Art Malik, Saeed Jaffrey, Anne Firbank, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft, James Fox, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers, Richard Wilson, Antonia Pemberton, Michael Culver
Director: David Lean
List Price: $29.99 USD, Released 03/20/01
Packaging: Amaray Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio: English Dolby 2.0 Surround
French Dolby 2.0 Surround
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Captioning: English
Features: Reflections of David Lean, production notes, talent files, theatrical trailers, scene selection, interactive menus.

The year is 1928 when Adela Quested travels to India to visit her finance, the city magistrate of Chandrapore. She is accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Moore, an elderly woman who is shocked at the treatment of Indians by the British who rule the city. Trying to see what the real people of India are like, they both befriend the young Dr. Aziz, who eventually over-steps his bounds by inviting both women and several others on a picnic excursion to the mysterious Marabar caves. But a twist of events leaves Dr. Aziz uncomfortably alone with both ladies on their outing and, after something strange happens in the caves, he is suddenly accused of attempting to rape Mrs. Quested.

A Passage to India's absolute best facet is the fantastic 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen video transfer. Colors are rich and vibrant yet never inaccurate, lending an almost surrealistic touch to this far-off place. Sharpness and clarity are also good, providing a visually rich, textured appearance to the film. Film grain is very minimal and I observed no excessive dirt, lint or other imperfections on the print used for the transfer. The image is slightly windowboxed (black bars also on the side), meaning viewers will see the entire flavorful environment, nothing chopped off due to television overscan. The 164 minute movie is divided into 28 chapters and is stored on a dual-layered disc containing 7.4 gigabytes of data.

Disappointingly, Columbia Tristar declined to provide A Passage to India with a brand new 5.1 sound mix. Instead, the release includes original two-channel Dolby Surround soundtracks for English and French languages, plus Spanish in 2.0 stereo. Despite this possible shortcoming, the standard Surround soundtrack didn't detract from overall enjoyment of the film. Dialogue is clear and distinguishable over music and effects, while a fair bit of ambient surround material is present. Music is full-bodied with good dynamic range. As this is a drama you shouldn't expect much from your subwoofer, but overall A Passage to India gets a passing grade. The DVD also includes English, French and Spanish subtitles and English Closed Captioning data.

Once again Columbia Tristar provides only a bare minimum of bonus features. Static menus lead to a short 8-minute documentary titled "Reflections of David Lean". Features continue with cast and crew biographies and filmographies for six people, plus theatrical trailers for Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Guns of Navarone - but strangely none for A Passage to India itself. Production notes are included in the form of a two-page insert in the Amaray DVD case.

A Passage to India steps in at Columbia Tristar's higher price point of $29.99 USD, but includes little in the way of supplementary features to support such a charge. Combined with an average yet passable soundtrack plus a surprisingly brilliant anamorphic video transfer and you're left with somewhat of a quandary. Although A Passage to India may not be one of David Lean's most recognizable movies, it's exotic appeal makes it hard to pass up. Buy this disc for the experience - not the technical merits.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on April 21, 2001.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Marantz SR-18EX THX Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial Baby Grand 3E & StarSat

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