A Superb Passage to India

David Lean's first film in 14 years is a daring triumph for an old master

Bombay, some time in the 1920s. Military band music. Massed cavalry. Mobs of the curious, somehow menacing in their vastness. The Viceroy and his lady are returning from England to India. As they pass through a great ceremonial arch, it fills the screen, dwarfing them and casting them, as symbols of an empire's transitory pomp, into the subcontinent's tuneless perspective.

Night. A train bearing more modest English visitors, Adela Quested and Mrs. Moore, chuffs and hoots across the plains. They are on their way to visit the latter's son...

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