The Far Pavilions

The Far Pavilions

On DVD: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HBO's first mini-series. Also was the most expensive at the time, budgeted at $12million.

Young Ash suffered the loss of both his mother and father, a British Botanist, and is adopted by his Indian nanny during the Sepoy Uprising. Given a new name, Ashok, he and his nanny find refuge in Gulkote and Ashok soon forgets his ancestry slowly but surely absorbing the native culture and befriending Koda Dad, Zarin, and the Princess Anjuli whom he has grown to love more as each day passes. When Ashok learns of a plot to kill the Prince of Gulkote he foils it only to find himself in danger of being murdered as well. He runs and eventually arrives at a British outpost where he is discovered to be British and on his own. He is quickly shipped off to Britain where he is given an education and where he lives for near a decade. When he returns as a British officer he finds that his Indian upbringing and his British upbringing have him torn between the prejudice and occupation of the culture that took him in and his British blood. As he struggles to find his place Ash goes AWOL to protect his men, native soldiers, and is sent away to escort a royal wedding which he soon discovers is that of Anjuli, his long lost love.

Adapted from the late M.M. Kaye novel of the same name, The Far Pavilions is in every way a soap opera story that, sometimes overdramatically, tells of a pivotal romance between two lovers who do not belong to any one culture and cannot belong to one another. Ashok is British but his heart lies with the local peoples and Anjuli is part Indian and part Russian. This all takes place during The Great Game or The Tournament of Shadows, in which both Britain and Russia were attempting to gain supremacy in Central Asia, and the heritage of both characters tied in with the country of origin seems to point to some heartfelt metaphor for a sort of unity and peace between all three. Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire, Star Trek *2009) and Amy Irving (Yentl, Adam) play the two lovers of this tale and are supported by Christopher Lee as Kaka-Ji Rao, Omar Sharif as Koda Dad, Benedict Taylor as Wally, Rupert Everett as George Garforth, and Sir John Geilgud as Cavagnari.
The re-issue by Acorn Media, according to some posts from people who have owned the mini-series on VHS, have applauded the improvement in both picture and sound. I’ll have to take their word for it as the picture still looks a bit aged but all together far surpasses that of VHS quality. Sound is just fine as well. The mini-series comes on two discs, three episodes a piece, and include Production Notes from both Amy Irving and Ben Cross as well as Biography and Book List of M.M. Kaye (text form). The film is also recently subtitled by Acorn Media. If you were ever a fan of the mini-series this looks like a smart investment. As always final judgment is yours. Enjoy.


AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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