The Jewel in the Crown (1984)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-Jun-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Art Malik & Tim Pigott-Smith (Actors) - Episode 1
Gallery-Photo-Postcards From The Raj
Audio Commentary-Christopher Morahan (Director) - Episode 4
Gallery-Photo-Photo Album: Location Scouting In India
Gallery-'The Jewel In the Crown' Painting
Audio Commentary-Charles Dance & Geraldine James (Actors) - Eps. 13 And 14
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 778:43 (Case: 781)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (27:50)
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Christopher Morahan
Jim O'Brien
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Peggy Ashcroft
Derrick Branche
Charles Dance
Geraldine James
Rachel Kempson
Art Malik
Wendy Morgan
Judy Parfitt
Tim Pigott-Smith
Eric Porter
Susan Wooldridge
Case Gatefold
RPI $59.95 Music George Fenton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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 English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I have never really been a huge fan of this sort of dramatic saga and I did not watch this series when it was originally on television over 20 years ago. Despite that, based upon my wife's strong recommendation, I decided to choose to review this title. I am very glad that I did. I found the series dramatic, fascinating and well put together. It certainly had no difficulty keeping my interest for the 700+ minutes running time.

    The Jewel in the Crown is an English produced television series of 14 episodes, made in the early 1980s over an 18 month period and first shown on television in 1984. It is set in India in the 1940s, starting in 1942 and continuing until 1947. For non-history buffs, these are the last years of British rule in India which obviously also had a cross-over with the last years of World War II. At this point in history there was resentment against the British rule, threat from the Japanese of invasion, simmering tensions between Hindus & Muslims, the rise of Gandhi as a leader of the people and a strong desire from expatriates to keep India British. All of these factors put together made India a simmering pot of fear, anger, violence and uncertainly. This series captures all of these things whilst also telling a compelling story about the intertwining lives of people living in India at the time. Some of the characters run throughout the entire series, however most, even the main ones, come and go as the series progresses. The main characters are:

    It is almost impossible to give you any sort of plot summary without spoiling the show. Suffice it to say that the plot includes everything from rape to murder, suicide, marriages, war, riots, injustice, love, racism, politics and completes with a dramatic and powerful ending that you will remember. Along the way there is much to enjoy including the wonderful acting by a great ensemble cast, fascinating images and recurring motifs such as a piece of lace featuring 'butterflies caught in a web' and the picture referred to in the title. The picture features Queen Victoria receiving tribute from her Indian subjects, and The Jewel in the Crown refers to India itself. The series is based on a set of novels, The Raj Quartet, by Paul Scott.

    An interesting fact about this series which you probably wouldn't pick watching it is that indoor scenes were filmed in Wales and Manchester, despite the entire story being set in India and all outdoor photography being filmed there. It was originally shot on 16mm film. The show is split across 14 episodes - the first is a double episode of 100 minutes and the rest run for approximately 50 minutes each. On original television release the show was very successful and has been shown all over the world. Interspersed between the action is real newsreel footage from the period in which the story is set which adds to your understanding of the context in which the story plays out. Another excellent feature of this series is the score by George Fenton, a very good mixture of European and Indian sounds which adds significantly to the story. Technically the series is spread across four DVD9 discs, which are in a gatefold cardboard sleeve of bright purple.

    Overall, this is an excellent drama series which would certainly be enjoyed by fans of quality television drama.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good considering the age of the material. I would guess that it has been digitally mastered from the original masters rather than from a video tape source.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, surprisingly so for television of this vintage. Occasional scenes were slightly softer. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was reasonable, certainly no worse than you would expect.

    The colour was very good for the age of the source material and came up very well. Blacks were occasionally a little on the brown side.

    From an artefacts perspective there was light grain throughout, which was slightly heavier in some scenes. There were also some blacks specks, however these were not distracting. Edge enhancement reared its ugly head here and there but only in a mild and transitory way.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. They were clear and easy to read, however some lines were skipped and others summarised. They still gave a good indication of the proceedings despite this.

    The only layer change I noticed was on the last disc, which only contains three episodes. It occurred at 27:50 in the second episode on that disc and caused a slight pause.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this series is by George Fenton and as mentioned above is very good indeed.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

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

Extras

    There are extras included on all four discs.

Menu

    The menu included an intro, music, scenes from the show and was done in a bright purple similar to the box.

Disc 1

Commentary - Episode 1 - Actors Art Malik & Tim Pigott-Smith

    This commentary is definitely the highlight of the four commentaries included here. It is moderated, however, he does not need to say much as the actors talk almost constantly about their experiences of making the show. They tell some interesting and amusing anecdotes and discuss how they got the parts, editing, the use of newsreels, working with the other cast members, the locations and sets and the success of the series and its effect on their careers. Good stuff.

Postcards from the Raj

    15 stills from the series.

Disc 2

Commentary - Episode 4 - Producer/Director - Christopher Morahan

    Boring, Boring, Boring. This guy talks a little and then takes a long pause and then talks a bit more. When he does say something it is generally not very interesting such as a minor detail about a location and where it is. Occasionally he says something worth hearing but it is just not worth the wait. Skip it.

Postcards from the Raj

    15 different stills from the series.

Disc 3

Photo Album : Location Scouting

    An animated photo album with music which includes a number of shots which were small even on my 80cm TV. Unless you have a projector these may be difficult to make out.

The Jewel in the Crown

    I thought this might be a documentary but alas it is one still of the painting which the show was named after. It is not big enough to really see any more detail than you saw during the show.

Postcards from the Raj

    15 different stills from the series.

Disc 4

Commentary - Episodes 13 & 14 - Actors - Charles Dance & Geraldine James

    Not a bad commentary track, just a little lacking in personality compared to the first one. The moderator needs to prompt them a bit more than he did Tim Pigott-Smith & Art Malik. Again they tell interesting anecdotes of their experiences, how they got the roles and details of shooting and locations. Ends up being more like an interview than a commentary, but still OK.

Postcards from the Raj

    15 different stills from the series.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series was released in Region 1 some years ago. The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis Region 4 is easily the winner. The Region 2 version is exactly the same as our local release.

Summary

    An excellent drama series from the mid-1980s set in India during the last years of the British Raj.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The set has 4 commentary tracks, mostly worthwhile and some picture galleries.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R1 release - REPLY POSTED
Industry pollution - REPLY POSTED