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A PASSAGE TO INDIA – Maurice Jarre

February 24, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

passagetoindiaMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

A Passage to India is a novel by English author E. M. Forster, which unfolds against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. David Lean became enamored after watching the stage presentation of the story and immediately sought and obtained the movie rights. He adapted the screenplay himself and secured a stellar cast, which included; Judy Davis (Adela), Alec Guiness (Godbole), James Fox (Fielding), Peggy Ashcroft (Mrs. Moore) and Victor Bannerjee (Dr. Aziz). The story revolves a fateful trip to the Marabar Caves where a recently engaged Adela finds herself captivated and aroused by the beauty and sensuality of Indian culture. One day on a day trek and while alone with Dr. Aziz in one of the caves, she experiences conflicting emotions towards Dr. Aziz, panics and flees. It is assumed that Dr. Aziz had attempted to assault her and he is brought up to trial for charges of rape. The trial serves as both a commentary and a volatile catalyst that unleashes the pent up racial tensions long simmering between the indigenous Indians and the British colonialists who rule India. When Adela finally relents and withdraws her charges, Aziz is set free, but friendships are ruptured and Aziz seems irreparably harmed. Years later Aziz and his dear friend James reconcile, which brings the sad tale to a pleasing closure. The film was both a critical and commercial success, earning eleven Academy Award nominations, which included a Best Score Oscar for Maurice Jarre.

Lean and Jarre established a deep bond with their collaboration on Lawrence Of Arabia, which led to Jarre scoring all his remaining films, A Passage To India sadly being their final collaboration. Lean commented “You’d think I was married to Maurice Jarre – I show him the script. Talk with him. I tell him the mood of the movie, and very often I’ll call upon him to rescue me when I’ve messed it all up.” Regretfully, Lean directed Jarre to only provide a minimum of score for the three-hour tale as he was still reeling from the aftermath of Ryan’s Daughter, a critical failure subjected to withering criticism that it contained far too much music! He also oddly stipulated that there should not be an intrusive presence of native Indian instruments.

For the film Jarre provides two primary themes, the first, the Main Theme is gorgeous, supremely complex in its construct and is imbued with a wondrous joie de vivre, restlessness and carefree romanticism. It provides the backdrop of Adela’s journey across the exotic wonder that is India. Jarre understood that despite Lean’s directive, that his music must speak to the exotic beauty that is India and so accented this theme with the tambura; a two-string instrument, the sitar or Indian lute, a santoor and the sarangi a bowed string instrument, all of which reverberate with the unique voice of that is India. The second primary theme, Adela’s Theme is on the surface a Fox Trot and so, dance like in its construct. But it is far more than this, and Jarre demonstrates mastery of his craft in how he modulates, embellishes and adapts both its expression and tone for the myriad of scenes to which it is attached. The theme thus reflects a conflicted Adela who’s sensual and inner yearnings for unfettered expression are repressed by her prudish and formal English upbringing. Beyond these themes, Jarre took a more cinematographic approach for his music by providing a wondrous palate of orchestral color that spoke of life in the 1920’s, the beautiful vistas and rich tapestry of India. Lastly, Jarre also infused his score with the ondes martenot, whose wavering notes provided both melodic statements and an eerie ambient tonal coloring for his soundscape.

I present the cues in movie sequence to support the story’s narrative. “A Passage to India” a score highlight that opens grandly as the opening credits run. Jarre sets the stage for our journey to India with this impressive score highlight, which provides a full and luminous expression of the Main Theme in all its glory with interplay of the dance-like Adela’s Theme. Bravo! In “The Bombay March” we change scenes to India where we see a panorama of British colonial power as thousands of brightly uniformed regimental soldiers stand in formation as the Viceroy arrives through a massive monumental arch. Jarre provides a classic Marcia Grandioso, full of pomp and circumstance. This marriage of imagery and score is just outstanding! “Punjab March” by Charles Payne is a source cue, which plays as a Marcia Festivamenti as Adela and Mrs. Moore arrive in Chandrapore by train and are greeted by her fiancé Ronny. Regimental Sepoy troops and cheering crowds greet them as Jarre’s music accentuates the stamp of British colonial power upon India.

“The Temple” is a complex cue where Jarre was challenged to emote a succession of varying emotions. We see Adela riding her bicycle through the countryside as a happy rendering of the Main Theme animates her adventure. As she enters a temple garden complex over run by vegetation the music darkens as a solo oboe ushers in as sense of trepidation and mystery. As she looks upon the garden statuary, the sensual and carnal imagery takes her aback, and yet fascinates. Twinkling ethereal metallic percussion supports a mysterioso ambiance, which speaks to her conflicted inner state. The transfer of the Main Theme to ondes martenot heightens the mystery and Adela’s internal dissonance, which unfolds with a now sensual expression of the theme. This extended scene culminates atop dark foreboding woodwinds and ominous percussion that inform us of an attack by aggressive monkeys, which cause Adela to flee for her life. This cue is nicely done! “Adela” is a score highlight, which provides us with a wondrous, full rendering of her theme. Regretfully, most of it was dialed out of the film. We see Adela in bed at night thinking of the carnal imagery, which display on the screen. The theme opens with a mysterious yet sensual lyrical flow and is adorned by twinkling ethereal accents. Soon it changes tempo and becomes dance-like, full of life with an incredible lightness of being. We conclude with a heart-warming grand statement, which ends tenderly.

“The Marabar Caves” is really a masterful cue and score highlight. It opens with a splendid rendering of the Main Theme, which expresses a sense of adventure and wonderment, yet at 1:27 all this changes as the party enters the cave. With the passage from light into darkness Jarre sows unease and trepidation, creating an ominous and claustrophobic textural ambience that closes in upon us as the orchestra descends deeper and deeper into its lower register. Regretfully this music was also excised from the film. “Climbing the Cliffs” features Adela’s Theme on ondes martenot, which is rendered in a subtle and mysterioso guise. The scene reveals a guide, Dr. Aziz and Adela ascending to the mountain heights for a grand and panoramic view of the countryside. Adela is now clearly drawn to Aziz, who feels her interest and is unsettled about it. Regretfully much of this cue was also dialed out of the film. In “Ghost” we see Adela called to the witness stand to support her charges of rape against Dr. Aziz. Jarre provides an eerie and unsettling textural ambiance, reflective of her internal dissonance.

“Kashmir” is a grand cue and wondrous score highlight where Jarre dazzles us with orchestral splendor as we see Fielding return to visit Aziz years later. Against the magnificent majesty of the mighty Himalayas the music soars, carrying us upwards to its pristine snow caped heights! We conclude in pastoral fashion as we see vistas of the verdant Kashmiri countryside. Bravo! “Back to England” features Adela back in England and at last reconciled by Aziz’s gracious letter. As the end credits roll we have interplay of the Main Theme and Adela’s Theme in splendid upbeat fashion, which brings us to a most satisfying conclusion.

Lean’s phobic reaction to the raging criticism regarding his use of music in Ryan’s Daughter resulted in an over reaction in A Passage To India. Regretfully much of Jarre’s wonderful score was excised from the film. To your author’s dismay, the following cues were all completely dialed out of the film. “Frangipani” was Jarre’s initial vision for the film, which was summarily rejected by Lean. It is sensual and languid in its expression, but lacks the richness and vibrancy of Lean’s vision. “Original Main Title”, however had a vibrant and wondrous expression of the Main Theme, which speaks to us with the spirit of a grand adventure. Yet Lean also rejected it and Jarre reworked it with some editing into the final film version – cue 1, A Passage To India. Most interesting is “Chandrapore”, which was never intended for the film, but rather as a stand-alone concert piece. For me this cue is the score’s crowning achievement, its apogee. Jarre dazzles us with a wondrous, sumptuous and extended statement of his Main Theme. The lush romantic power of this cue is just extraordinary and it reveals Jarre as a master of his craft. “Expectations” features interplay between the Main Theme and Adela’s Theme. It was originally conceived to support Adela’s taking in of India, opening up in spirited and upbeat fashion, but later losing its vigor and brightness as the realities of the vast numbers of poor register, and the chasm which separated the British elite from the Indians peasantry becomes apparent. “Bicycle Ride” was conceived to support Adela’s bicycle ride through the countryside. Ondes martenot sets a reticent beginning from which we flow into an adventurous rendering of her theme. The joining of the Main Theme in interplay creates a rich and rewarding listening experience. “Nightmare” offers an eerie and dissonant rendering of Adela’s Theme as the imagery of the Indian statuary plague her. The use of the ondes martenot created surreal soundscape, which speaks to her internal dissonance. Two harsh and horrific orchestral stingers end the cue.

Lastly, we have source cues created by Jarre to enhance the authenticity of the Indian Raj and indigenous Indian cultures. Regretfully, Lean dialed out most of these cues. The five procession cues are all fine examples of tradition Indian celebratory music with a wondrous array of indigenous ethnic colors. Each offers a unique listening experience well worth taking.

Please allow me to thank James Fitzpatrick, Tadlow Music, and Quartet Records for this splendid and long awaited release of the full score to A Passage To India. The original Capitol soundtrack release did not include much of Jarre’s wonderful music and this album has been expanded by about 20 minutes. We at last are provided many beautiful cues that were not used in the final cut as well as some source music. The quality of the music is exceptional, being expertly performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the Jarre’s baton. The sound quality is excellent having been fully remixed and mastered from the original 24-track session tapes. Folks, this score was worthy of its Oscar award and features just exquisite thematic writing by Jarre. Though only supported by two primary themes, the manner in which Jarre varies their expression and lyrical flow is just outstanding. He was able to speak outwardly to the beauty of India, the conflict of cultures, but also inwardly to the internal dissonance of Adela. I felt with each scene the music was expertly attenuated to the film’s imagery and astute in its emoting of Adela’s internal state. I believe the orchestral colors, and ethnic accents enriched the score and brought to life the vast tapestry of Indian culture. In summation, this is an excellent score and a must for Jarre enthusiasts. I recommend it as more than worthy of your exploration and inclusion in the collection of all film score enthusiasts.

Buy the Passage to India soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • A Passage to India (1:53)
  • The Marabar Caves (3:09)
  • The Bombay March (2:33)
  • Ghosts (0:32)
  • The Temple (5:16)
  • Frangipani/Original Main Title (3:04)
  • Chandrapore (4:29)
  • Adela (4:29)
  • Expectations (2:30)
  • Bicycle Ride (3:30)
  • Climbing the Cliffs (4:00)
  • Nightmare (3:07)
  • Kashmir (2:28)
  • Back to England (2:30)
  • Colonial Club Orchestra [BONUS] (0:54)
  • Himalayan Mountain Horns [BONUS] (0:52)
  • Punjab March [BONUS] (written by Charles Payne) (0:27)
  • Procession 1 [BONUS] (1:25)
  • Procession 2 [BONUS] (5:05)
  • Procession 3 [BONUS] (2:37)
  • Procession 4 [BONUS] (1:01)
  • Procession 5 [BONUS] (1:10)

Running Time: 57 minutes 01 seconds

Quartet Records QR-075 (1984/2013)

Music composed and conducted by Maurice Jarre. Orchestrations by Christopher Palmer. Edited by Robin Clarke. Score produced by Maurice Jarre. Album produced by Jose M. Benitez and James Fitzpatrick.

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  1. June 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Thank u for the review..u r d best!!

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