Based on the novel by E.M. Forster and the play by Santha Rama Rau, A Passage To India tells the story of India in the late 1920s. Adela Quested (Davis) has traveled to Chandrapore to join her fiancé (Havers), the city magistrate. She is accompanied by his mother Mrs. Moore (Ashcroft, in her Oscar®-winning performance), who is shocked at the treatment of the Indians by the British. The two women befriend Dr. Aziz (Banerjee), who, eventually, because he has overstepped his position by being gracious and friendly to them, is accused of criminal conduct stemming from a picnic outing to the Marabar caves. Composer Maurice Jarre also won an Oscar for his original score. (Laurie Sevano)
Special features include commentary with Producer Richard Goodwin; the following featurettes: Reflections Of David Lean" (eight minutes), E.M. Forster: Profile Of An Author (seven minutes), An Epic Takes Shape (11 minutes), An Indian Affair (14 minutes), Only Connect: A Vision Of India (10-1/2 minutes), Casting A Classic (11 minutes), and David Lean: Shooting With The Master (13 minutes); and trailers from The David Lean Collection. The Blu-ray™ also includes an exclusive Beyond The Passage: Picture-In-Graphics Track.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.66:1 DVD shows a similar image quality to the previously released DVD, although details are slightly better resolved and the image rarely looks soft. It has a good sense of depth and dimensionality, as well as solid black levels and decent shadow delineation. Color fidelity is somewhat limited, with reds looking bright and bold, but greens and blues looking somewhat undersaturated. Fleshtones have a subtly pinkish hue as well. Source element artifacts are recognizable throughout, although they aren't overly distracting. Edge enhancement is also noticeable, but it isn't as pervasive as in the previous release. The H.264 AVC-encoded Blu-ray Disc shows dated colors, but resolution is quite good considering the age of the film. Minor source element artifacts can be noticed, but they aren't too distracting. Occasional scenes are overly noisy as well. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is a noticeable improvement over the previous release's matrixed Dolby Surround encoding. Fidelity is quite good considering the recording's age, but dynamic range is somewhat limited. The front stage is mixed well with a somewhat panoramic presence. While the surround channels are used frequently, their contribution to the soundscape is relatively limited. The noise that can be heard throughout the previous release has been cleaned up quite well here. The Blu-ray Disc's Dolby TrueHD encoding provides a noticeable increase in fidelity, but dynamic range is still relatively limited. The mix is the same and shows the same deficiencies. (Danny Richelieu)