Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. United Kingdom/USA, 1984. EMI Films, Home Box Office, Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, New Gold Entertainment. Screenplay by David Lean, based on the novel by E.M. Forster and the play by Santha Rama Rau. Cinematography by Ernest Day. Produced by John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin. Music by Maurice Jarre. Production Design by John Box, Herbert Westbrook. Costume Design by Judy Moorcroft. Film Editing by David Lean. Academy Awards 1984. Golden Globe Awards 1984.
The failure of Ryan’s Daughter in 1970 was so hard on director David Lean that it took fourteen years for him to produce another film. The result was this sturdy, admirable adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel about the evils of colonialism in British-ruled India. Judy Davis is excellent as a young British woman travels east to be with her military-career husband. While on a sightseeing trip to the Malabar caves, she is so frightened when left alone with an accomplished Indian doctor (Victor Banerjee) that she accuses him of rape. The result is a long, drawn-out court battle where Forster shows us how justice is perverted by racism, colonialism and common ignorance. Peggy Ashcroft is marvelous as an older British woman who comes to the land in the spirit of learning, not judging, and is a strong counterpoint to Davis’s youthful naivete. Handsome and intelligent, the film runs a bit too long but is thought-provoking all the same, and Lean showed himself to be in top form behind the camera as director, writer and producer.