- Movie Rating -

Heat and Dust (1983)

| October 28, 1983

I have a general passion for stories that take me to countries that are unfamiliar to me.  It’s part of the reason that I spend so much time watching National Geographic.  I love the look, the texture, the intricate day-to-day feel of places on this Earth that are unfamiliar to my experience.  Call it armchair open-mindedness.

That, in a nutshell, is the kind of experience that I hoped to gain from Heat and Dust, two stories separated by generations about the connection between India and England and seen through the eyes of two different women.

The film begins in the present when Anne (Julie Christie) inherits the diary of her great aunt Olivia and uses it to discover her fate.  In flashbacks to the 1920s, we meet Olivia (Greta Scacchi), a young woman whose open heart and free manner do not sit well with hard-lined social laws of proper British society.  Heading off for a holiday in England, her husband instructs her to stay with the pack, remains within the cluster of English women and don’t wander too far into the social riggers of India.

We know right away that Olivia is not going to obey.  She falls in love with India and even has an affair with a handsome local named Nawab (Shashi Kapoor) who is good looking, very sophisticated and we know is very likely a killer.  A night of passion leaves Olivia pregnant and this outrages the social standings and traditions on both sides.

The scandal fascinates Anne, so she decides to follow the path that her great aunt took to India and sort of does the same thing.  She falls in love with India, has an affair and becomes pregnant herself.  The map of her journey is the journey of Olivia herself but the movie isn’t about paralleling their common but individual stories.  It is about contrasting the relations between India and England then and now, very much has changed but in terms of sexist attitudes toward women, the song remains the same.

I’ll be honest, I was on board for this movie.  It’s fine.  I loved the intrigue; I loved the sights.  I was even there for the rather trite notion that Anne does exactly the same thing that Olivia did.  And yet, I was always on the sidelines with this movie.  I never really got involved in Olivia’s story nor did I get involved in Anne’s story.  They seemed like passive characters to me and I never got involved.  I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t impatient, but something about the approach to this material just left me cold.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1983) View IMDB Filed in: Drama