Home > Drama >

The Jewel in the Crown

The Jewel in the Crown (1984)

January. 09,1984
| Drama History Romance War

The British Raj: though their position seems secure, thoughtful English men and women know that "their" time in India is coming to an end. The story begins with an unjust arrest for rape, and the consequences of this echo through the series. Questions of identity and personal responsibility are explored against a background of war and personal intrigue.


Watch Trailer



Mark Christiansen

Not knowing anything about the book, I was expecting this celebrated PBS series to be somewhat like a longer variation of the excellent David Lean movie Passage to India. But I was disappointed by Jewel in the Crown. While it did give me valuable glimpses into the British Raj, the class tensions between the British and the Indians (and between the British themselves), and the history of the period, the overall effect on me when the series ended was depression.And I did not enjoy the portrayals of rape, brutality, torture, insanity, homosexuality, etc. I regret having watched this series. If you would be offended by such content, then I also caution you about this film. PBS has been going downhill in recent years, in my opinion, as far as portraying more and more offensive content. After watching Jewel in the Crown, I now realize the decline had began much earlier - at least as early as 1984, when this series was broadcast.


What can you say about this inimatable piece of work which stunned the UK in the mid eighties? British television drama has always had a reputation for being superior as it tends not to be involved in sensationalism or commercial value. Maybe today this theory doesn't stand up too well but The Jewel in the Crown is one of the most beautifully written and performed pieces of work that the current generations could hope for. Forget about fast pace and update technology as this is a serious historical piece about Britains' end in India during WW11 and thus the de-mobilising of the 'polite society' class abroad. Cinematically photographed and performed to perfection, with Tim Piggott-Smith, Judy Parfitt and Peggy Ashcroft stealing the honours. This was repeated on UK TV in 1997 and everyone agreed how it had lost none of its power and dramatic pull. This will stay with you forever.


This British TV movie is slightly less than 800 minutes long and approximately 600 of those minutes are taken up with boring dialogue. To add insult to injury, the new DVD reissue comes without closed captions for the hearing impaired and for Americans, like me, who can't follow the low decibel mumbling of most contemporary British actors.I recently stumbled on a tape of an episode that I must have accidentally recorded off of TV almost 20 years ago. That episode was of some interest because it starred Charles Dance, who played a World War II Sargent caught in interesting soap opera like situations. I rented the rest of the movie so that I could catch up to that episode and, later, see how the thing turns out. I did not know that the first episode starring Charles Dance starts approximately 500 minutes into the movie. Other than the capable portrayal of a powerful, evil character by Timothy Pigott-Smith, very little of interest happens before Mr. Dance appears. At first it seems that Mr. Pigott will portray the main character, however he gets limited screen time during the middle half of the movie, a poor decision.Seemingly endless segments are taken up with boring dialogue between a group of arrogant, self centered, passive dependent British women with politically powerful connections. Occasionally their dialogue advance the plot slightly, however they mostly disseminate un-annotated harmful rumors and self serving xenophobic propaganda.Incidentally, the female characters have no monopoly on xenophobia and the complex exploitation of a conquered people. Mr. Pigott's character says and does things that would make the women seem like Mother Theresa by comparison.Words fail me. If I had known what I was getting into, I would have never rented this boring, unpleasant movie.


Very disappointing series that had some potential. As the series continues, it increasingly becomes a forum for homosexual politics. Also, largely a woman's movie, in the the first half at least. The whole series revolves around a man you are encouraged to hate, then feel sorry for and then hate again. Even his demise, which you are hoping for by the end of the first of 15 episodes, is disappointing. The British are made out to be thoroughly disagreeable throughout most of the series. Very little history, geography and politics of India, which I had hoped to see. The black and white documentary interjections are out of place and several don't make any sense at all, for example, D-Day - this is a movie about India, not about the invasion of Normandy! It is a loathsome and ponderous work with little redeeming qualities. Stay away in droves.