Skip to content
Heat and Dust – 1983 Ivory
- This is the first time back in India for Merchant/Ivory (and frequent writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala—this her screenplay from her novel) after a decade. Their first five films were all shot in India going back to the 1960’s.
- There are really two narratives- parallel stories of Julie Christie’s (born in India) character (in contemporary 1980’s) retracing the steps of her grand-aunt (played by Greta Scacchi) in the same location in India in the 1920’s.
- It is a good post-40 role for Christie (her only archiveable film of the 1980’s)—apparently she turned down the Charlotte Rampling role in The Verdict for this (how many times have those two been offered the same role over the years?)
- The voice-over situation is messy—poor form. I get why Ivory wants to include Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s writing (very literate as always)—but we have Christie’s voice-over and then in one situation Scacchi just reads an old letter to us, and then still later we go into Christie’s character’s head with an inner monologue—weak.
- Greta Scacchi is best known from The Player nearly a decade later in 1992 – the love interest of Tim Robbin’s character – she’s good here, beautiful
- Again, the narrative does a good job with the matching stories of the two women- both in a bit of an existential crisis while traveling in India, falling for Indian men, literally retracing the steps of her relative sixty years before, pregnancy
- Colonialism, racism- a thoughtful examination
- I get a kick out of Merchant/Ivory almost always including nudity in their films (they’re not all stuffy period “dress” genre)—and this is no exception
- A warm formal sensation washing over you the viewer as the film ends with the pregnant Julie Christie character making a discovery through the genealogy exploration
- Recommend- but not in the top 10 of 1983– never touches the best work of James Ivory – it is interesting- he’s 55 at the time of Heat and Dust and his best work is certainly all ahead of him in the next decade