(Above: Dailymotion screenshot)
An HBO classic is now streaming on Acorn TV.
In 1984, The Far Pavilions – an adaptation of an epic 1978 novel by Indian-born British author M.M. Kaye – became HBO’s first-ever mini-series. The five-hour TV epic, presented in three parts, told a tale of “passion, treachery and intrigue” during the British occupation of India.
Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire), as an Indian-raised British officer, and Amy Irving (Yentl), as an Indian princess, star as forbidden lovers, with support from Christopher Lee, Omar Shariff, John Gilegud and many others.
Today, The Far Pavilions starts streaming in six parts on Acorn TV, the subscription service that focuses on productions from the British Commonwealth. The Far Pavilions qualifies because, while the miniseries was a major milestone for HBO, the production itself — with some exceptions such as Amy Irving — was filled with Brits.
UK independent Goldcrest Films was the production company, and as The New York Times pointed out, “HBO did not stint in recruiting an impressive array of talent, most of it British.” These included cinematographer Jack Cardiff (Oscar winner for 1948’s Black Narcissus), production designer Robert Laing (who had recently won an Oscar for Gandhi’s art direction), and costume designer Raymond Hughes (Emmy winner 10 years earlier for the BBC mini-series The Pallisers).
Let’s take a look at the first hour of The Far Pavilions, from a version available on Dailymotion:
If you’ve read all 964 pages of Kaye’s book and think that just five hours of The Far Pavilions isn’t enough to do it justice, you’re apparently not alone. The novel is now being made into a 30-hour series via a massive British/Indian co-production. While the 1984 film made waves with its then-unprecedented (for cable) $12 million budget, this one will cost $150 million.
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