Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy (2003)

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Released 8-Aug-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Character-Lord Mountbatten
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 293:30 (Case: 450)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tom Clegg
Studio
Distributor
Goerge Walker
Warner Vision
Starring Nicol Williamson
Sam Dastor
Nigel Davenport
Janet Suzman
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music John Scott


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The British established the first of what was to become many trading posts in the South Asian region on the coast of north-western India in 1619. From that point in history onwards, they, primarily through the efforts of the East India Company, built up their presence, buying colonies from other European colonial powers and expanding their influence, until by the mid nineteenth century most of the subcontinent was under British control, be it merchant rather than sovereign. As the historical TV miniseries Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy makes clear, at this time India included the now independent nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) - a vast region of arguably unmatched cultural diversity. Great unrest in 1857 caused the British Parliament to assume complete control of India which continued well into the twentieth century.

    Some powers of self-government were vested in Indian officials throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This precipitated a greater level of participation by Indian nationals in the political arena, resulting ultimately in Mohandas Gandhi's (later given the honorific Mahatma - a broadly equivalent title to Saint in the Christian faith) famous non-violent movement for Indian independence, which effected extraordinary change within the Indian National Congress party, convincing them to oppose British colonial rule. Gandhi of course was the subject of the sweeping Richard Attenborough biopic of 1982, which won the coveted Oscar for Best Picture (beating E.T.), and a Best Actor gong for acclaimed British thespian Ben Kingsley. In this miniseries, made some three years later, that role is assumed by Sam Dastor. Gandhi's movement, coupled with negotiations between the Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten (Nicol Williamson) (great uncle of Prince Charles), Jawaharlal Nehru (Ian Richardson - father of later Prime Minister Indira Gandhi), Jinnah (Vladek Sheybal), known to many as the father of Pakistan, and other prominent Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims led to Indian independence in 1947 and the partitioning (much to Gandhi's and many Sikh leaders' dismay) of the two Pakistans. In 1971 East Pakistan was to become the independent nation of Bangladesh.

    This very wordy and very comprehensive miniseries delves headlong into the political machinations, the personalities, the scandals, the triumphs and the disasters that swirled around the difficult but ultimately heralded granting of independence to the 'jewel in the Crown of the British Empire'. In some regards Indian and Pakistani independence was the death knell of British pre-eminence in the world which, following the Second World War, inevitably fell to the United States to assume. Those who choose to investigate this well acted, lavishly produced and, for my money, accurate and insightful drama (it is obviously centred around the Mountbatten character and is thus told from a British perspective, which does arguably have its drawbacks) will no doubt have an interest in history and therefore will find much to enjoy, learn and muse on.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This miniseries in presented at its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    Spread evenly across two discs, this nearly five hour production is presented in a remarkably consistent matter. To be sure, when compared to the latest major studio releases now gracing our DVD shelves one could be disappointed with the video quality. However, taking into account its television origins and now 21 year vintage I was not displeased with the transfer.

    Colours, so important for a production set in the exotic worlds of India (the film was shot on location in India, Sri Lanka and England) are well rendered with only minimal oversaturation of some of the brighter reds and oranges. Skin tones, happily diverse (although some British actors did darken their skins to assume Indian character roles - a little distracting and unconvincing initially) are excellent.

    Sharpness is not terrific, and any moments of pull or push focus confuse the rendering of the image causing some significant blurring. Most of the film is shot in well lit rooms or outdoors in sunlight, but the occasional night scenes are presented with adequately clear blacks with intermittent low level noise.

    MPEG artefacts are something of a problem, and very few frames are without them. Aliasing is minimal (or perhaps simply lost amongst the sea of macroblocking issues). Film artefacts however are, considering the age of the film, a fairly minor blemish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    We are presented with a defiantly front channel Dolby Stereo 2.0 English track.

    Dialogue, thankfully for there is a lot of it, is clear (in spite of the accents) and lags only rarely behind the visuals. There is a continual audio interference that plagues the transfer, very much like tape hiss on a vintage jazz recording from the 1940s or 1950s.

    The music is suitably pompous, imbued with an Elgarian regality that is quintessentially English and proper. It is, however, rather repetitive and much of it sounds a little too much like Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches.

    The subwoofer and surround channels are silent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The same text biography of Lord Mountbatten appears on both discs which, whilst very informative (in fact the best text bio I've read on a DVD), would have been better accompanied by some information about the other important historical figures.

    There is also a nice collection of still photographs taken from the film present.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It appears that this is the first DVD release of this production anywhere in the world.

Summary

    A long-winded but informative television film about an important time in our history.

    The video transfer is not without flaws but is fine considering the age and source of the material.

    The audio transfer is adequate.

    The extras are absolutely minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Sunday, July 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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