Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Lord Mountbatten - The Last Viceroy|
Actors: Patrick Allen, Michael Byrne, Sam Dastor, Nigel Davenport, Nicholas Day
Director: Tom Clegg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
A great grandson of Queen Victoria, nephew of the Tsar, and cousin of the Prince of Wales, Lord Louis Mountbatten had proven his mettle as Supreme Allied Commander in Southeast Asia during World War II. But his toughest mi... more »
Splendid mini-series... Disappointing DVD from Acorn Media
dooby | 05/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a splendid 6 part mini-series centering around the end of British rule in India and Lord Mountbatten's role in it. It's a superb production which successfully evokes the splendour of the last days of the British Raj followed by the turmoil and bloodbath of post-independence India. The splendour was deliberate. Mountbatten was adamant that the British would not just slink away. He saw what a monumental occasion this was. As he summed up in a private toast with his wife, this was about "the birth of India and the death of the British Empire."
The series covers the year immediately preceeding Independence and the year after, effectively Mountbatten's tenure on the sub-continent, as the last Viceroy and then the first Governor-General of India (1946-1948). There is an excellent all-round cast, even with non-Indians playing the major roles - Ian Richardson painted brown as Nehru and a similarly tanned Vladek Sheybal, a Pole by birth, as his arch nemesis Jinnah. History is decidedly seen from the British, or more precisely Mountbatten's, perspective. He and Nehru were close, his wife and Nehru closer still. That intimacy is alluded to very pointedly here. The villain of the piece, as the Amazon reviewer has stated, is clearly Muhammad Ali Jinnah, head of the Muslim League and the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah was someone Mountbatten couldn't get close to and didn't trust and he is portrayed here as a slithery snake who schemed and slimed his way towards the painful partition of India and the forced migration of some 14 million people, plus the deaths of up to a million Hindus and Muslims who had to flee to "their" side of the border - ethnic cleansing the likes of which dwarf that seen during the more recent Balkans conflict.
Such was their friendship that Nehru extended a personal invitation for Mountbatten to stay on as the First Governor-General of independant India. Jinnah on his part immediately installed himself as Governor-General of Pakistan. The series paints Jinnah as the instigator and behind-the-scenes manipulator of the Kashmir conflict which sparked off 2 full scale wars and remains unresolved to this day.
The series devotes equal time to both pre and post Independence India, the first 3 episodes revolving around the negotiations with the various factions (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and the Princely States) preceeding Independence, and the last 3 episodes chronicling the bloodbath that followed partition and the short-lived Dominion of India with Mountbatten as Governor-General before it achieved full republic status in 1950. The series ends with Mountbatten's farewell to India in 1948, including Nehru's touching farewell speech in which he makes plain his love for Lady Mountbatten and his final toast, "We will remember you... forever." As a reward for the successful transition to Indian independence, Mountbatten was finally granted an Earldom. He was made 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, a title that was passed on to his eldest daughter upon his death in 1979. This was also in recompense for his having renounced his royal titles (he was the grandson of Queen Victoria and he was born Prince Louis of Battenberg) at the request of the Royal Family during the anti-German hysteria of the First World War.
Mention should also be made of the score written by John Scott, especially of the stirring opening theme which is very reminiscent of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches (the Fourth March in particular), which capture in music the splendour that was once the British Empire.
What a shame that this series has been released by Acorn Media. Acorn has a checkered history with regards to DVD quality, their transfers of newer productions looking pretty good but with older series fairing rather poorly. Unfortunately Mountbatten falls into the latter category. Your heart sinks at the opening credits, as the blurry looking Union Jack flutters under the orange glow of the setting sun. It looks like a mediocre VHS tape recording. The picture is soft and blurry, the colours which should have been resplendent (the brilliant crimsons of the Imperial troops, the lush greenery of the countryside) all look drab, dingy and lifeless. Quality improves slightly as the film progresses but not by much. Thankfully the later episodes do improve quite a bit especially at the end. By and large it's a disappointing transfer. It's hard to believe that this production actually dates from 1985. There are 1960s sitcoms that look in better shape than this. One can only hope that another company buys the rights to this series and gives it the proper restoration and remastering that it deserves."
Deeply Moving and Intelligent
Peggy Stone | San Diego, CA USA | 05/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had fond memories of this series as one of the most intelligent and moving historical series ever shown on Masterpiece Theatre, so I was utterly delighted to discover it is now available on DVD. Though it cries out for better "extras," given the amount of historical documentation available, I had no real complaints with the transfer, which seemed bright and crisp. And the series itself is even more wonderful than I remembered, with sterling performances all around, first-class production values and the true feel of an "epic." (Its canvas seems at least as great as the bigger-budget "Gandhi," and though I loved Ben Kingsley's performance, I was just as moved by the small scenes involving this "Gandhiji.") Twenty years later, too, I am able to put these events into even greater historical perspective, especially the ongoing tragedy caused by partition. But I am even more deeply stirred by the (also ongoing) struggle of many individual Indian people to respond with compassion and nonviolence in a world that seldom seeks nonviolence as a first response. The series shows unflinchingly the brutality, mindless violence and random acts of hatred, but balances it with quiet scenes of anguish, love and compassion. I can't recall a pairing quite as touching as that of Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, finely tuned to each other's feelings, drawn obviously by a subtle erotic current, but above all, adults balancing duty, power and a deep compassion. If the series idealizes its characters, it does so without making them cardboard or anything more or less than human. And one final note: John Scott's score is wonderful, and exists beautifully on its own with its masterful blend of English and Indian themes."
Why is this mini-series not on DVD?
Gerald Carter | Baltimore, MD USA | 03/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This mini-series IS AVAILABLE ON DVD, but not in the U.S. I found it by accident while doing a search on the internet. (...) It is a region 0, which means it has no regional coding and can be played anywhere in the world. I purchased it with a lot of caution but was rewarded in the end with the fact that it not only played very well in my DVD player and the picture was a clearer than my old, worn VHS copies. Don't remember what I paid but it turned out to be just a tiny bit higher than if it had been bought here (and that included the international postage). If you are interested in purchasing it on DVD, this looks like the only option. You won't be sorry.
A Classic Finally on DVD
T. J. Friedman | Tallahassee, Florida | 04/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly one of the classics of Masterpiece Theater and is highly recommended to all who are interested in historical drama. It is a marvelously and beautifully realized set-piece that, for the most part, accurately describes the chaotic events that occurred during the days and months that led up to independance of the India and Pakistan (and the early nationhood of each).
The characterizations of the leads and of all the actors in the cast are stunning and it is easy to forget that you are not watching a re-creation of the events.
I was particularly impressed with the performance of Vladek Sheybal as Ali Jinnah and A. K. Hangal who played Sardar Patel. Sheybal's aloofness and calculating manner simply nailed the Jinnah about whom I have read and Hangal's Patel was a brilliant "wheeler-dealer," manipulator and above all, a realist as I believe Patel clearly was. They clearly outshined their more famous rivals, Nicol Williamson and Ian Richardson, who turned in their expected star performances and yet did not bring out the souls of their characters in the same depth as did Sheybal and Hangal. Perhaps this was due to Mountbatten and Nehru being far more complex and greater men. It is difficult to assess. Janet Susman was marvelous as Lady Mountbatten and provided just the proper amount of tension to bring out some needed depth in the Mountbatten character that would otherwise have been lacking. Dastor's Gandhi was just fine, yet coming a scant three years after Kingley's Gandhi, it would certainly seem to be in the shadow of that portrayal. Yet it is satisfying.
This set is particularly recommended to all with an interest in Indian history. I have to admit that I am prejudiced in favor of India, having traveled to India in the 1970's and having lived with families there. While there, I lectured on our U.S. First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) as the Emergency and subsequent election of the Janata Party occurred. During this time, I had many discussions with Indian friends concerning their thoughts about the Raj. Of course most agreed that independence had been inevitable for the world's largest democracy and that colonialism had not been very satisfactory for them. Today, I am amused that I could even think to ask about the obvious, but the answers to these questions were not so to a naive young man and the Indian folks I met were always gracious and patient in answering my questions - both common Indian traits, which I am pleased to note can be easily seen in this film.