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Tensions between Indians and the colonial British come to a boil when a white female tourist accuses a young Indian doctor of rape during a visit to some caverns. A study of colonial relations and the nature of memory. Based on E. M. Forster's novel. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
David Lean's first (and last) film after a 14-year hiatus from the industry. He was so devastated by the negative reviews of Ryan's Daughter (1970), he dropped out of the filmmaking scene. See more »
Exiting the caves, Mrs. Moore sees a full moon overhead in the mid-day sky. This is an astronomical impossibility, but it is shown in the film to highlight the powerful effect that the caves have on the human mind. The caves would also deeply affect Adela a little while later, but with much more serious consequences. See more »
A Passage Through India tells a story about the radicalization of a native Indian who happens to be a Moslem. This was in the days before the idea of a separate Pakistan took hold in the independence movement.
Victor Bannerjee plays Dr. Aziz Ahmed and as you see by his title he's a professional man. But he's still looked down upon by most of the British who are ruling India. He's befriended by Peggy Ashcroft who is visiting India with her daughter-in-law to be, Judy Davis. Peggy's son is a magistrate. Bannerjee is also friends with James Fox who is an administrator at a local college.
He's warned against fraternizing with the British by his friends and family, but Bannerjee goes on a picnic with Ashcroft and Davis and Davis has a horrifying experience in the historic caves at Marabar. It's only her claustrophobia acting up, but Bannerjee winds up accused of rape. And his trial becomes a cause celebre for the Congress Party. Note that Bannerjee has two defense attorneys, a Moslem and a Hindu.
E.M. Forster who wrote A Passage to India brought two elements of his background to the writing of this novel. He served as a private secretary to a local maharajah so he knew the customs of India as well as the political scene. Most in the United Kingdom wanted to see India free after World War I. A few very powerful folks like Winston Churchill and some influential press lords, most prominently Lord Beaverbrook did not. There opposition kept India a British colony until after another World War.
Secondly Forster was a closeted gay man. His homosexuality was not publicly revealed, he wasn't 'outted' until after he died in 1970. One of his relationships was with a Moslem Indian who died at a young age. He's the model for Dr. Aziz. The India Forster writes about is not Rudyard Kipling's India. A place where the native population is made to feel like outsiders. Forster identified with them in a way Kipling could never conceive.
Peggy Ashcroft won a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as the kindly Mrs. Moore. I've got a sneaking suspicion that Forster modeled her character on his own mother who lived with him until she died in 1945. Judy Davis got a nomination for Best Actress and A Passage to India was nominated in a whole bunch of technical categories.
A Passage to India is a disturbing look at a bygone era in a place where you can see a lot of the problems we face today being nurtured.
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