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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

A Passage To India - Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]

(David Lean, 1984)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Columbia Pictures

Blu-ray: Sony Pictures

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:43:57.828

Disc Size: 47,092,775,716 bytes

Feature Size: 36,402,094,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.95 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 15th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1358 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1358 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Dolby TrueHD Audio French 1405 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1405 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none

 

 

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Producer Richard Goodwin

Beyond the Passage - Picture-in-Graphic Track

Featurettes:

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

Promos: 'Blu-Ray disc is High Definition' and 'The David Lean Collection'

 

 

The Film:

A New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote in 1985, “A Passage to India is the kind of movie that people think they are talking about when they insist that ‘they’—meaning Hollywood in the generic sense—don’t make movies the way they used to.” Indeed, it is an epic echo to the way movies used to be made, as demonstrated by director David Lean’s own previous epics, such as Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Based on the novel by E. M. Forster, the film is set in colonial India in 1924. Adela Quested (Judy Davis), a sheltered, well-bred British woman, travels to the subcontinent to visit her fiancÚ, a British magistrate posted in a small town; her traveling companion is his mother Mrs. Moore (Peggy Ashcroft). They arrive in the fictional town of Chandrapore, and soon wish to escape the trappings of colonial Britain and hope to experience the sensual sights and the sounds of "the real India". Soon, Adela and Mrs. Moore meet and befriend Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee), who, despite longstanding racial and social taboos, moves with relative ease and freedom amongst highborn British circles. Feeling comfortable with Adela, Aziz invites her and Mrs. Moore to accompany him on a visit to the Marabar caves. Leaving an overcome Mrs. Moore behind, Aziz and Adela climb a mountain to reach a more forbidden part of the caves. What happens in the mystical caves touches off a mystery that implicates Aziz in a shameful crime, and brings to light the shameful hypocrisy and racism prevalent in the ruling British class.

Excerpt from Turner Classic Films located HERE

 

 

 

Image:   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

This dual-layered Blu-ray looks absolutely fabulous. Part credit to the sumptuous visuals and also to the crisp 1080P - MPEG-4 transfer. It may very well be one of the best looking hi-def discs for a film of over 20 years. Colors are vibrant and lush without overpowering (skin-tones true) and detail shows some remarkably pristine moments - approaching the 3-dimensional quality we have come to expect from the best of Blu-ray visuals. Background noise eclipsed as textured grain. Contrast is expertly defined within the workable parameters of the original film by exporting deep rich black levels. This towers over my old, already strong, SD edition (from 2001?) and I'm extremely pleased with this, David Lean's last film... but first to Blu-ray.* One word: 'Wow'!

 

* NOTE: We now have Brief Encounter, Dr. Zhivago and Great Expectations on Blu-ray as well - with The Bridge on the River Kwai coming in November 2010!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: We are given a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (and similar French DUB) that although not extensively tested - does the job well with some scattered separation to the rears (as in crowd jeers, train whistles, the echo sequence etc.). It's, obviously, very clean and clear (no pops, gaps etc.) and supported by English, French or Spanish subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide. 

 

 

 

Extras: Great job by Sony by including this new commentary by one of the producers; Richard Goodwin - who's most recent work would be as executive producer on Brad Pitt's Seven Years in Tibet (1997) and before Passage producing some Agatha Christie films; Evil Under the Sun (1982) and The Mirror Crack'd (1980). With over 30 years in the industry he knows his stuff and although I wouldn't begin to consider this an academic commentary, as one might find on a Criterion disc, he does his job adequately and I genuinely appreciated the effort discussing locales and sets, plus some minor controversies. There is an impractical feature - Beyond the Passage - Picture-in-Graphic Track (which one can view while the film runs - exclusive to the Blu-ray) and seven shortish featurettes (about 10 minutes each) with input from crew and cast - basically on the 'Making of...'. There is lots of justified glad-handing to Lean and some interesting nostalgic anecdotal information imparted.

 

 

I especially enjoyed the Vision of India segment. There is enough to justify perusing them if not simply leisurely sitting through and soaking up the aura of the production. Aside from that - we have a promo on Blu-ray and another on 'The David Lean Collection' with hints at more of the master's work to surface in high-definition. 

 

 

 

Bottom line: Well folks, this is all very positive and you want some more good news? - it's less than $20 - making it an essential purchase in my mind. The film is a bona-fide classic infusing expressions of pride, prejudice, respect with a backdrop of cultural diversity... and this Blu-ray exports the sumptuous image with grace and precision. The perfect film for the new format. It has our highest recommendation.  

Gary Tooze
April 8th, 2008

September 27th, 2010

 


 

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About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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