A Passage to India

Sony Blu-ray Disc
Movie •••• Picture ••••½ Sound •••• Extras ••••

Even before the first image appeared from the Blu-ray Disc of David Lean's 1984 classic, A Passage to India, I was thrilled by Maurice Jarre's mysterious, dramatic, and romantic Oscar-winning score - so clear, so well separated, so overpowering in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Sound plays an essential part in the film's story and mood, and the multichannel mix is full of atmospherics and smoothly panned effects, whether for jarring, rattling steam trains passing over wooden bridges or for endlessly rebounding cave echoes.

Deeply focused images have great detail from front to back, and contrast is excellent. A wide array of subtle tones reveals all the intricacies in the beautiful costumes worn by Adela (Judy Davis), while the locals' richly colored spices, scarves, and turbans are dazzling. Skin tones are natural, with faces having a nice roundness to them. And yes, landscape shots of the Himalayas look truly stunning in high-definition.

Superior extras include an informative commentary by smart producer Richard Goodwin, an hour of featurettes with much enjoyable reminiscing, an analysis (albeit brief) of E.M. Forster's book and life, an 8-minute interview (albeit blurry) with Lean, and a tantalizing trailer in high-def that includes two more of his films: The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia.