A Passage to India (1984)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Passage to India</strong> (1984)

(On Cable TV, February 2019) I’m on a quest to see all the movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and unfortunately this means that I have to make my way through movies such as A Passage to India. Considering that’s it’s a long movie (2h44m!) that feels even longer due to its slow narrative pacing, you may want to book a holiday before you embark on seeing the movie. It’s long. It’s so unbelievably long. It’s David Lean-class long, which makes sense considering that he wrote, produced and directed it. The production design is sumptuous, evoking the atmosphere of 1920 India … but it’s long. If you do manage to dig into the material (or if this is your kind of thing), there’s a lot to like in the film’s depiction of British Raj India, racism and class distinction against a visually refined backdrop. But the marathon-like pacing of a rather simple story makes it a sometimes-punishing viewing. Lean’s approach here is interesting in that he draws back from the wide-scale vistas of his previous epic films to deliver a well-visualized smaller story … but he could have gone further in being more efficient, bringing the length of the film to one more appropriate for the story being told. This being said, A Passage to India is the kind of atmospheric film where I suspect that many factors (including mood and personal preference) will influence an overall assessment.

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