Like most films adapted from works of fiction by E.M. Forster this one is strange and opulent. Couple this with the fact that David Lean is the man who directed such films as "Doctor Zhivago", "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and you understand why this film is epic in nature.
Adela (Judy Davis – The Break-Up, Husbands and Wives) and Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft – The 39 Steps, Madame Sousatzka) are traveling by ship to India. It is Adela's first time out of England. They are going to visit Mrs. Moore's son, who has recently been appointed as a magistrate, who Adela has been promised to. Once there they become engaged.
Once in India everything is very new and strange for the women, especially Adela. Both women are quite upset over how the British treat the Indians. While out in the gardens one evening, Mrs. Moore meets Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee) in the mosque. When Adela reveals that she is quite bored and wants to see the real India, Mrs. Moore introduces her to Dr. Aziz.
Dr. Aziz arranges a trip with Mrs. Moore, Adela and Mr. Fielding (James Fox – The Remains of the Day, Patriot Games) to see the caves at his own expense. While on the trip something happens to Adela in one of the caves. She is traumatized and runs off. Dr. Aziz is suspected and is arrested. Adela has accused him of attempted rape. He learns that in the British run court he is considered guilty until he proves his innocence. All civilities between the Brits and the Indians collapses.
As with most of E.M. Forster's works it deals with the upper class trying to connect with those of different classes. It is a look at colonial times and the tricky nature of memory. Though the film looks great and really conveys the oppressive nature of the colonial system through its oppressive heat and landscape there is still something that does not translate well from novel to screen for me. There was plenty of nuance and a deliberate lack of clarity in the novel that are lacking in the film. For instance, the ending is a little too tidy for my liking. There is also the usual complaint about casting white actors as Indians. But what are you gonna do…
-E.M. Forster: Profile of an Author
-An Epic Takes Shape
-An Indian Affair
-Only Connect: A Vision of India
-Casting a Classic
-David Lean: Shooting With the Master
-Reflections of David Lean
-Previews of The David Lean Collection and A Raisin in the Sun (2008)