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A TALE OF ROMANCE AND ADVENTURE IN BRITISH COLONIAL INDIA...
on 17 November 2002
Based upon M. M. Kaye's best selling novel of the same name, this film is well acted and absorbing. It is a story set during the time of the British Raj in India. The two characters central to the film are Ash (Ben Cross), an Englishman who spent the formative years of his life believing that he was Indian, and Anjuli (Amy Irving), a half caste Indian princess. Ash and Anjuli spent a portion of their childhood growing up together, until palace intrigues forced Ash and his Indian foster mother to flee. As a prepubescent youth, he is informed of his English heritage and sent to England for his education and Anglicization.
Returning to India many years later as a young man, Ash becomes a part of a British regiment called the Guides. He has some difficulties adjusting, as he is not an Englishman comfortable in his own skin, as he also feels Indian in many ways, a view that brings him conflict due to the way the native Indian population is viewed by the British. Meanwhile, Anjuli has continued living as a half caste Indian princess. She and Ash have not seen each other since he and his foster Indian mother fled, and she has no idea that Ash is not Indian, but British.
The film is an amazing cornucopia of adventure and romance. It provides a tantalizing glimpse into colonial India. All of this, however, merely serves to propel the story towards the uniting of Ash and Anjuli, as the film is, first and foremost, a love story set against the romantic and lush backdrop of colonial India. When the paths of these star crossed lovers intersect, it is under a most unusual set of circumstances. It is a story that will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. I, myself, was unable to tear myself away from the screen and was riveted for the full five hours that it took for this mesmerizing tale of adventure, love, and treachery to unfold.
With a star studded cast that includes the likes of Omar Shariff, Christopher Lee, Sir John Gielgud, and Rossano Brazzi, this is a film what will capture the viewer's imagination. I read and loved the novel upon which this film was based, and while it is not a faithful adaptation of that wonderful book, the film stands on its own considerable merits. It is meant to entertain and that it most certainly does.
This two disc DVD is somewhat limited in what it offers, however, in terms of features, which is limited to a scene index, some production notes, and a brief biography of M.M. Kaye. In terms of its quality, while the sound is good, the visuals are somewhat grainy at times and washed out looking. It is too bad that they decided to do the transfer from video to DVD on the cheap. In doing so, they did "The Far Pavilions" a disservice. Still, it is a DVD well worth having in one's collection, as the story is such a gripping tale.