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163 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST THINGS YOU WILL SEE - IGNORE THE BAD REVIEW!
I was absolutely outraged when I read the only other review of this DVD. Please do not let it prevent you from purchasing one of the very best dramas ever presented on television.
First off, let me say that 'The Raj Quartet' by Paul Scott - the four novels from which 'The Jewel in the Crown' was adapted - is one of the greatest pieces of...
Published on 25 Nov 2005

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12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment
An excellent production in its original form but sadly a great disappointmeent as a DVD. Badly edited so that many of the scenes were cut off abruptly before they finished, presumably to remove unwanted advertisements. The general feeling was that had this been a pirated version it could not have been much worse. I certainly would not recommend it for viewing. A rather...
Published on 4 Mar 2009 by Dr. P. T. Smith


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163 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST THINGS YOU WILL SEE - IGNORE THE BAD REVIEW!, 25 Nov 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
I was absolutely outraged when I read the only other review of this DVD. Please do not let it prevent you from purchasing one of the very best dramas ever presented on television.
First off, let me say that 'The Raj Quartet' by Paul Scott - the four novels from which 'The Jewel in the Crown' was adapted - is one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. Every sentence is as sublimely perfect as something written by Jane Austen; yet the scope and sweep of this epic story is enough to rival Leo Tolstoy's 'War and Peace', particularly in the way it effortlessly moves from panoramic to personal drama. The most staggering thing, however, is how the characters are so acutely real and multi-dimensional. They are all distinct individuals with unique thoughts and personalities.
The only reason I have given this four stars instead of five is that some of the detail is lost from the books, but it does about as much justice as thirteen hours can possibly do to a total of over two thousand pages. Sensibly, the dramatist Ken Taylor chose to select a few storylines and develop them fully, rather than cram in the entire story and make it feel rushed. The presentation is so beautifully nuanced, with so many subtleties and hidden gems, that you will have to watch it many times to fully appreciate the immense care heaped upon this production by everyone involved.
The story is set in India during World War Two. It chronicles the years leading up to the granting of Indian Independence in 1947. Several pivotal events symbolise the indelible damage that British rule had had in India at that time - such as a rape, more than one character's descent into mental illness and, above all, a brutal and unforgettable 'interrogation' sequence as one character decides to teach another his concept of the true meaning of the relationship between the British and the Indian (the rulers and the ruled). However, every one of the brilliantly varied cast of characters is affected by these events: some are destroyed; some are saved; for some the future is uncertain. The story does not patronise us with a cliched happy or unhappy ending. Like real life, some things are left unresolved and not all the 'good' characters get the happy ending they deserve. The one certainty is that none of them will ever be the same again after the great 'divorce' between Britain and India.
The casting is little short of inspired. In addition, the length and complexity of the scenes allow the actors to develop their characters slowly, gradually peeling away layer by layer. The cast is a real ensemble and there is tremendous chemistry between all the actors. As the central protagonist Ronald Merrick - the one character to appear in all four of the books and who links everyone else together - Tim Pigott-Smith is masterful and compelling. He breathes life into a character who is only ever seen through the eyes of other people. Geraldine James delivers a marvellously complex performance as Sarah Layton. Although she can sound a little monotonous at times, there is so much going on beneath the surface - as she herself says in one of the interviews, 'You have a life going on inside you.' I was astonished to discover that Charles Dance never read the books because his portrayal of Guy Perron is so faithful. He simply oozes charisma and gives a truly star-making performance. Art Malik is outstanding as Hari Kumar, perhaps the most important and haunting character in the story. He makes you feel the perpetually insurmountable plight of the character so intensely. Daphne Manners, my favourite character from the books, is exquisitely rendered by Susan Wooldridge. The way she makes the plain character become beautiful is wonderful to behold. However, the person who steals the show is undoubtedly Peggy Ashcroft as Barbie Batchelor. Her performance is absolutely superb, simply remarkable. Think of the best performances we have seen in TV drama: Alec Guinness in 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (and the sequel 'Smiley's People'); Keith Michell in 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII'; Sian Phillips in 'I Claudius'; Eric Porter in 'The Forsyte Saga', to name only a very few. Ashcroft's performance here is up there with the best of them and hers really is an unforgettable tour de force.
And that is just the leads! The supporting cast is filled with richly developed characters, all fabulously well cast. Special mention must go to Judy Parfitt as Mildred Layton, Wendy Morgan as Susan Layton and Eric Porter as Count Dmitri Bronowsky, but I could go on and on. However, one thing I will say is that several of these actors are too old for their parts or rather different physically, but you soon cease to notice and it will not matter at all to viewers who have not read the books.
'The Jewel in the Crown' was originally transmitted in January 1984, yet it has dated extremely well. Filmed largely on location, it is a visual feast comparable to a lavish Merchant Ivory film and the entire atmosphere is cunjured up with such consistantly scrupulous authenticity that watching it really is like escaping into the almost alien world of 1940s' India.
The long awaited DVD release does not disappoint. The fourteen episodes are split over four discs and the transfer is miraculous. Entirely digitally remastered, every scene looks fresh, clear, vibrant, warm and intoxicating and the sound has been just as perfectly rectified. There are optional audio commentaries throughout four of the episodes. One of them is a solo commentary by the producer and co-director Christopher Morahan, which is rather tedious. The other three are moderated interviews with four of the principal cast members: Tim Pigott-Smith, Geraldine James, Charles Dance and Art Malik. These are highly entertaining and extremely interesting. On the downside, there is no accompanying booklet and there is an unavoidable and very long, very loud anti-piracy advert at the beginning of each disc.
The overriding quality of this drama serial has, to my mind, only ever been surpassed by 'Brideshead Revisited'. This was reflected in the unprecedented multitude of award nominations it received. It claimed all four nominations for the 1985 BAFTA Award for Best Actress (for Geraldine James, Peggy Ashcroft, Susan Wooldridge and Judy Parfitt - Ashcroft won); Tim Pigott-Smith won Best Actor, with both Charles Dance and Art Malik also nominated; and it deservedly won the award for Best Drama Series/Serial. It also won several international awards.
Considering the price, this is an extraordinary bargain: the production is impeccably assembled and magnificently acted; the story has just about everything - romance, tragedy, humour, tension, excitement and it is extremely thought-provoking; the characters are so immediately human; and the DVD set is superlative.
You cannot go wrong with this one!
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply tremendous, 11 Feb 2006
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
The review by "A reviewer" says it all. This is quite simply the most engrossing serial I have ever seen, and it has not dated at all since it was first shown on television over 20 years ago. A powerful and intricate story in which the personal and the political interact (though the pace, tension and clarity do slacken a little in the 12th and 13th of the 14 episodes); terrific acting (not least because it is mostly understated in a very British way, which anyway corresponds to the ethos of the British at that time and to some extent still; we often know what the characters are feeling not through what they say, but through what is reflected on their faces), stunning photography, an impeccable sense of the period and of class attitudes at the time.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant British drama, 10 Jan 2007
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
This is an emotionally absorbing, interesting, brilliantly acted and brilliantly directed T.V series. The start is breathtaking - Daphne Manners is enchanting and Hari Kumar is perfectly acted by the very attractive Art Malik.

The danger for this show was when, relatively near the start, both Hari and Daphne effectively vanish from the screen. Having become attached to these characters it is an act of will to continue watching. It is a testement to the series that it manages to make us do this. Although the few episodes following with Sarah and her family are not as absorbing and the storyline gets a little difficult to follow at times, the narrative soon picks up again as the central characters of Dimitri, Ahmed Kasim and Guy Peron (Charles Dance) are introduced. Together, they add a lighter touch and enable a connection with the viewer to be made once more.

Of course, the one constant throughout all 14 episodes is Merrick (Tim Piggot Smith). The character disintegration is brilliantly realised as the brief glimses of humanity appear less and less. The continuing motifs of the bridge, fire and the butterflies caught in the web are well handled and, cleverly, Daphne and Hari are never really forgotten. Their shadow pervades the whole 14 episodes, even when they don't appear.

This programme chronicles the tradgedy of India through the fates of its many characters. Its great success is that, throughout the whole epic series, we never stop caring about each individual character. The emotional impact of the last episode is as strong as the second.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable series, 26 Nov 2005
By 
Alfietucker (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
We're used to faster paced dramas today, but this epic series is a superb adaptation of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, a four-part novel packed full of nuanced, fallible yet utterly compelling characters. I have to strongly disagree with "Captain-Wesker" (who posted the first review here), who perhaps was confused by the fact much of the social mores of the Raj meant that many British people in India fell into stereotypical behaviour, something which is accurately reflected in this dramatisation. But the central characters - Hary Coomer/Hari Kumar (Ark Malik), Daphne Manners (Susan Wooldridge, who brilliantly conveys Daphne's gawky character while somehow letting her tremendous candour and essential intelligence shine through), Sarah Layton (Geraldine James), Barbie Batchelor (Peggy Ashcroft) and even the twisted Ronald Merrick (Tim Piggott-Smith) - are all complex and multi-faceted, brilliantly realised by their actors. Added to this is the filming itself which captures both the squalor and the sheer beauty of India, all the more evident in this beautifully restored version of the series. Having remembered the series from my late teens, I thought I might see weaknesses in either the story or acting, but was astonished at how well both stand up today; in fact I often couldn't resist seeing two episodes at a time. Do see this series for yourself (you can always rent before buying).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid series on a past era., 28 Feb 2009
By 
A. L. Jermaine "Music Lover" (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
I mainly remembered this on TV some twenty years ago for Tim Piggott-Smith's role. However, this time round I was impressed with all of the cast. This shows what maturity can do for you! A really good script and well-paced direction meant that at times we watched several episodes at a time which is not our usual viewing practice. Everything about this series is superb and I have no quibbles about anything. Seems to have captured the dying days of the Raj very well. Good picture quality. Nice colour. Good value for money. Will watch again in a couple of years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute delight, 2 Jun 2008
By 
hfffoman (Kent) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
If you are interested in India or Indian history, or if you like Passage to India, you will love this. The atmosphere and historical feel is terrific.

Credit for the subtle story, in which the characters are complex with complex flaws, goes mostly to the author but also to the film for resisting the temptation to dumb it down.

But the best thing is surely the acting. I often watch a film and feel that one or two parts are perfectly played and the others are indifferent. In Jewel in the Crown I had that feeling with virtually all, if not all, the important parts. I particularly liked Tim Piggot Smith who was unsympathetic at first but by the end was almost a tragihero.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better Than That, 28 Nov 2005
By 
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
A previous reviewer may have missed something. The whole point of the piece is that the people in it are themselves going nowhere. Most of them come to the conclusion that they are the proverbial fish out of water, an anachronism, and react to this conclusion in different ways. In showing this, the TV adaptation is very successful. What may appear as wooden acting should not be confused with good actors portraying wooden lives.
There are occasions when some stricter editing may have improved matters and it's not perfect. But get it into it and it's engrossing stuff.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Series, 26 July 2009
By 
DR (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
This series is impeccable. Everything about it is outstanding. The key performances are all of the highest calibre, and most memorable is the incredible acting of Peggy Ashcroft, who oozes kindliness and humanity out of every pore but is ill used by the world around her and sent into mental imbalance by the experiences which she (or rather, I should say, her character) has to endure. Another outstanding performance is that by Eric Porter, whose wily Count Bronowski is hugely impressive. His swift recognition of the character Merrick's hidden homosexuality is a mark of his astuteness. Merrick himself is fabulously played by Tim Piggott Smith - a tour-de-force of subtle and deep character-building developed throughout the entire series. The only thing I did not like about the DVD was the interviews with some of the stars: the sound seems particularly bad, muffled and sloppy - it is difficult to catch all that they say. But other than this, I recommend 'The Jewel in the Crown' without reservation. Truly a classic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The old mystique, crossing the river, death by fire, the silence of India., 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
The old mystique, crossing the river, death by fire, the day of the scorpion, butterflys caught in a web, the silence of India, the ghosts of lovers. Set in the fictional Mayapore, The Jewel in the Crown is a haunting epic tale of the final years of British rule in India as it emerges in an ordeal by fire to independence after 300 years. The people involved, British and Indian, butterflys poor prisoners caught in it's web of transformation or the Scorpion, trapped in a ring of fire. The Jewel in the Crown a painting of Queen Victoria recieving tributes from her Indian subjects is a central theme, the Jewel being India not the Jewel a Prince is presenting to her.

The series is adapted from the classic novels by Paul Scott of The Raj Quartet, was first broadcast in 1984, then re-broadcast in 1997 and is now on DVD. The story line is disjointed yet compelling, it winds and twists becoming as rich and fine as Old Sporran Whiskey. Like India itself, nothing is obvious, but everything is deeply connected. With a stellar cast with such luminaries as Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Charles Dance, and Art Malik. It follows two English families, The Manners (mostly dead) family of the former Governor of Mayapore, and the Laytons family of Colonel Layton of the Pankot Rifles, the old Raj and the potential inheritors not-to-be. Bound together by the central character, the evil self-made but complex Ronald Merrick eventualy murdered, brillantly played by Tim Piggot-Smith. The international characters diverse, seemingly unconnected, dance around him in life and death, like the image of the dancing Shiva.

Hari Kumar and Daphne Manners, the ghosts of the lovers of the Bibighar Gardens, haunt the whole saga, the history of the British in India. It was Paul Scott vision of Daphne a gauche English girl running to escape a riot, that first inspired the epic. The politics pro-muslim, touch heavily on partition, and the INA with the back drop of WWII. Boundaries are shockingly and violently broken down, leaving death, madness, devastation but ultimately it is the pains of rebirth and a new future. The tale presents many questions about fate, personal responsibility, identity and karma, set against the exotic scenery of India, and in particuar the stunning beauty of the Lakeside Palace and pre-war Kashmir.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets, 24 Mar 2009
By 
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] [1984] (DVD)
Paul Scott's Raj Quartet was a great epic novel sequence. the Jewel in the Crown, which takes its title from one of the novels, is a dramatization fully worthy of its origins. Watching this profound meditation on the Raj and it's collapse is very painful, but one emerges wishing that the experience were yet more extended. (The treatment of the fourth novel,Dividing the Spoils, seems a little abbreviated, but perhaps one is just reluctant to leave so completely realized a world.

Of the cast, it need only be said that the actors are without exception completely worthy of the writing.
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