308 of 326 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2002
This DVD set is a real heartbreaker!
The Jewel in the Crown is absolutely one of historic the highlights of "quality" television. An absolutely arresting story. Wonderful script, wonderful acting, etc. I can't add anything on that count to the reviews already here.
That makes the TERRIBLE quality of the DVD transfer all the more disappointing. This set has literally the WORST video quality I have ever seen on a DVD! Murky, muddy picture with visible scratches and dirt on the film. The soundtrack is a little better. On my home theater setup it sounds like its coming over a half-decent clock radio. Seriously, the picture looks like they took an old VHS tape of the show and just ran it through a disc burner.
No, I don't expect blockbuster quality from an 30-year old BBC film, but I would have expected something more like the recent DVD set of Elizabeth R, which is quite watchable.
Sadly, this is almost surely the only DVD we'll ever see of this marvelous series. I'm going to rent the old tapes of this. They might easily be better. If not, I guess this is what we're all stuck with.
118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2003
Heed Spoffo's warning.
While the series itself is wonderful and certainly worth owning, I have NEVER seen a worse DVD transfer. Even my seedy Madacy Entertainment copy of Fritz Lang's 1226 "Metropolis" is of higher quality. The visuals are fuzzy and grainy at the same time, and there are severe block artifacts everytime the screen gets even slightly dark. All scenes shot at night or in the darkness are almost unwatchable because of the visual noise.
The sound seemed alright to me at first, but then I turned the volume up a bit and found that there is a kind of low-pitch static, like machine noise underneath the vocals and music.
Please buy the VHS tapes - and let A&E know that this is simply unacceptable!
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2004
A lot of other reviewers have said everything I could say to sketch the plot and setting of this superb series. I was a bit hesitant about buying this because some people thought the video and sound were awful. I took the plunge anyway. While this has obviously not been digitally remastered, it is still quite watchable. If you remember what watching color broadcast was like in the late 1970's, what the picture and sound quality was like, that is exactly what the DVD is like. Not the super sharp images and digital sound we have all gotten used to ( distant stuff can be a bit fuzzy and it is occasionally a little dark in spots), but the story is so good you quickly stop noticing.
123 of 135 people found the following review helpful
This powerful and moving eight part miniseries has lost none of its impact since it was first aired nearly twenty years ago. Highly acclaimed, it won numerous awards. Beautifully filmed on location in India, England, and Wales, it is a highly atmospheric and complex drama, redolent of the flavor of the turbulent years just before India gained its independence from British rule.
The story begins in 1942, and through its memorable characters, both British and Indian, it masterfully weaves a tapestry of events that explains the state of flux that India was in at the time and the collision between East and West that often occurred, as the old guard made way for the new. Pivotal events become symbolic of India's struggle for independence, and it is those events that impact on those living in India and struggling to survive through those turbulent years. This tumultuous and sumptuous saga ends with India's independence in 1947.
Masterfully acted, lushly filmed, and awash with period detail, it is so atmospheric as to make its viewers feel that they themselves are there during the decline and fall of the British Raj. It captures the essence of India and its ramparts of colonialism. Interspersed throughout the episodes are snippets of old newsreels that recount India's involvement in World War II and the threat of Japanese invasion through adjacent Burma. These serve to further move the story along and imbue it with an air of authenticity that stays with the viewer.
This multi-faceted series, based upon Paul Scott's literary gem, "The Raj Quartet", is a fine adaptation that should not be missed. The award calibre performances by the entire cast are stellar and will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. Those interested in period pieces, historical dramas, and epics on Indian colonialism will love this series, as will anyone interested in a superlative drama. Bravo!
The quality of this four disc DVD box set is pretty good. The visuals are better than expected for what appears to be a direct transfer from the original print. The colors for the most part are still vivid and the audio is crystal clear. All in all, this transfer to DVD has fared pretty well. It is a DVD set well worth having in one's collection. As it runs about twelve and a half hours in length, it will provide the viewer with many hours of enjoyment.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2007
Admittedly, I'm not a history buff and probably, like most Americans, what I do know about WWII is solely from the American perspective. The Jewel in the Crown was highly recommended, but I honestly wasn't enthused about getting a history lesson of the British occupation in India. I'm happy to report, however, that this series had me hooked. Not only was it brilliantly written and acted, but I came away with such respect for Paul Scott, the author of The Raj Quartet on which this series was based. A virtual lifetime of work went into this project, all gained from his experiences in India. There is so much detail, so many interesting, fully developed characters and intriguing, interwining plots, it's absolutely unbelievable how all of it blended so well. After watching 12 hours of these DVD's I had to read all four novels of The Raj Quartet. The DVDs were wonderfully satisfying, but getting more character background from the books was a treat. Like most A&E & BBC productions, there's always a wealth of remarkably trained British actors in this series. We get to see a very young Charles Dance-who was recently in "Bleak House" as the unmerciful Mr. Tulkinghorn. I do have to say though that I was most impressed with Tim Pigot-Smith as Ronald Merrick and Eric Porter as Count Bronowsky. Smith gives a very layered performance of Merrick who is so intensly disturbing. The payoff is finally understanding what makes him tick. This doesn't happen till the end, but all the pieces fall into place. Count Bronowsky is a very interesting character. He seems to be a delightful man and oddly seems to know everything about anybody. I've watched the series in full a few times and each time I hear or see something new from Bronowsky. Fortunately he's played by an actor who doesn't squander the time he's given. After reading the novels and viewing the DVD's I'm glad I finally have a general understanding of the British and Indian experiences during WWII. It's interesting to watch these cultures interact, their general distrust of one another, and how vastly different they can view a single, shared incident. It's heartbreaking, too, to see the damage that was done to India, not only from the War, but the toll British (and some Indian) extravagance had on the land, it's animals, the subjugation of the Indians and it's lasting effects on their government and justice system.
P.S. Try and avoid reading Amazon's product description for this DVD series. It reveals way too much of the plot. Also, there's several complaints about the sound & picture quality. True, it's not the quality that that I'm used to, but it didn't interfere with my enjoyment. When I'm watching a story this good, the picture quality is the least of my cares.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2003
Great story and strong performances - but, ugh, what a lousy transfer to DVD. The images are grainy and the sound muddied. That said - the performances are uniformly excellent.
Pass on the DVD and get the somewhat superior VHS version.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2000
We Americans don't know that much about the human stories behind the transition of power in India, from the British to a native republic. This epic helps to sort out the warring factions, giving human faces to the political stories. And the love story between Hari Kumar and Daphne Manners packs a lot of emotion, with an impact that lingers throughout the rest of the story. There are unforgettable characters here, playing out their histories with commendable British (or British-trained) restraint. There are a couple of obvious bits intended to tie all the episodes together (such as the picture designated by the title) but that's nothing to quibble about. You will enjoy the swirl of historical events that catches up the characters, and you will take away a pretty good knowledge of what happened in India at that period.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2006
This is quite simply the most engrossing serial I have ever seen, and it has not dated at all since it was first shown on television over 20 years ago. A powerful and intricate story in which the personal and the political interact (though the pace, tension and clarity slacken a little in the 12th and 13th of the 14 episodes); terrific acting (not least because it is mostly understated in a very British way, which anyway corresponds to the ethos of the British at that time and to some extent still; we often know what the characters are feeling not through what they say, but through what is reflected on their faces), stunning photography (but see the next paragraph), an impeccable sense of the period and of class attitudes at the time.
I understand that the colour in the Region 1 version, for the US and Canada only, ASIN B000053VA4, is terrible. My review is of the Region 2 remastered version, ASIN B00075141W, which Americans and Canadians can play only if they have a multiregion video player. If they do have a multiregion player and cannot find the Region 2 version on amazon.com, they can order it from www.amazon.co.uk. The European version is in 14 parts, where the American version appears to be in eight.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 1999
Gripping! Involving! Outrageous! Insightful! and more! The awful abuses of power by those that ruled, the British Raj causes one to sense that justice can be terribly one sided. The entrapment by those British subjects who had a sense of affection and fairness and strong sympathy for the Indians causes drama upon drama to unfold. The enormous guilt of the system was a heavy burden for many, both pro and con who were a part of the system that ruled India for generations. Tender love stories between the races and the consequences in those times bring the viewer to reflect on ones own culture today. You must see this series.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2009
I don't understand the reviews that savage the video and sound quality. This is a relatively low-budget 1980s TV series, not a 21st century $200 million blockbuster. It looks and sounds just fine for what it is. I can sympathize slightly with the numerous requests for subtitles, but I'm a relatively provincial American myself, and I was able to understand every word with occasional quick rewinds.
I was primarily interested in finding out what the real difference is between the two releases that are available, from 2001 and 2008, since (as of 8/24/2009) one costs more than twice as much as the other, and Amazon gives different run-times for them, by a significant 28 minutes. So before buying either, I borrowed both versions from the library and watched them side-by-side. The answer is that--as others have said--the two versions are identical in every detail, except the artwork on the box and the design of the DVD labels. Nothing else was changed at all.
It's not perfect, but I enjoyed The Jewel in the Crown when it was first broadcast, and I enjoyed it again this time. Other people have different reactions to it, and I suppose anything that gets a lot of praise will automatically attract a few harsh critics. There are always differences in taste.