“Heat and Dust” could be written off as another British people discovering India movie. But, it tackles a ton. The lead character’s aunt has bailed on her white rich husband for an Indian prince. Now, she’s inviting her niece to come discover the India that she found. It’s a relationship movie, but it also confronts British attitudes about racism and class. What makes the film so special is that it was one of Merchant Ivory’s first in-depth location shoots. The cinematography pales when compared to its later releases, but the effort is there.

What floored me was seeing the Autobiography of a Princess short film included as a special feature. The short and the feature have been restored with great care, but few Americans have bothered to watch the early Merchant Ivory short film starring James Mason. Both stories feature similar themes, but the short deals more with longing with the feature tries to tame lust. The Cohen Collection continues to kill it with the packages they put together for these special films. This one is a recommended purchase.


  • Short Film
  • Commentary
  • Trailer
  • Interviews
  • Featurettes


  • 1.66:1 1080p transfer
  • DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track

RELEASE DATE: 12/12/17

  • 94%
    Video - 94%
  • 93%
    Audio - 93%
  • 96%
    Supplemental Material - 96%
  • 89%
    Film Score - 89%

The Plot Thus Far

Merchant Ivory’s magnificent film moves effortlessly between the vibrant world of modern India and the magnificent splendors of the Raj. Cross-cutting between two generations, the acclaimed film by the longtime team of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a sprawling epic of self-discovery and a lush evocation of the prismatic and sensuous beauty of India.

As she searches for answers to the mystery surrounding a long-ago affair between her aunt Olivia (Greta Scacchi, Presumed Innocent, The Player) and an Indian prince (cinema icon Shashi Kapoor), Anne (Julie Christie, Darling, Fahrenheit 451, Away From Her) becomes immersed in the local culture, the pull of the past simultaneously leading her into a clearer view of her own future. Jhabvala adapted her own novel to great effect, and Richard Robbins created the haunting score. The film earned the Merchant Ivory team nine BAFTA nominations and a Palme d’Or nomination at Cannes for director Ivory.

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