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Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern [1st ed.]
 9783030609931, 9783030609948

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xi
Introduction (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 1-11
The Western and the Eastern (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 13-33
Treasure and Thugs: The East as Mystery and Disorder (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 35-69
The Eastern Desert and the Lone Hero (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 71-103
The Colonial Gaze, Modernism, and the Trauma of the Tropics (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 105-143
The East and Love in the Time of Decolonization (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 145-159
Conclusion (Nalini Natarajan)....Pages 161-173
Back Matter ....Pages 175-204

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Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern Nalini Natarajan

Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern

Nalini Natarajan

Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern

Nalini Natarajan English Department University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras San Juan, PR, USA

ISBN 978-3-030-60993-1 ISBN 978-3-030-60994-8 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Erickson Stock/Alamy Stock Photo This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

I would like to dedicate this book to two strong women who inspired by example: my mother Bama Natarajan (1935-2014) and my mother-in-law, Laurelle Baron Parrotta (1924-2020). They lived through the period these films delineate.

Acknowledgments

I thank the University of Puerto Rico for funding a trip to the British Film Institute, London and to Pinewood Studios as I began my research for the book. My research assistants during this project, Sharif el Gammal Ortiz and Sherin Shehada, were helpful with bibliography searches, critiques, and proofreading. Many thanks to them. I also wish to thank my editors at Palgrave for the unfailing support and courtesy they showed throughout this process.

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Contents

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1

Introduction

2

The Western and the Eastern

13

3

Treasure and Thugs: The East as Mystery and Disorder

35

4

The Eastern Desert and the Lone Hero

71

5

The Colonial Gaze, Modernism, and the Trauma of the Tropics

105

6

The East and Love in the Time of Decolonization

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Conclusion

161

Afterword

175

Bibliography

179

Index

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ix

List of Figures

Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig. Fig.

3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 4.1 4.2

Fig. 5.1 Fig. 5.2 Fig. 5.3 Fig. 6.1

Cutter and Din. Gunga Din (1939) Leprechaun-like Hindu idol. The Moonstone (1997) The idol in Srirangpatnam. The Moonstone (1997) Priests as jugglers. The Moonstone (1997) The death of Tippoo or Besieging the haram!!! Lawrence the Arab. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Almasy and Katherine in the Souk. The English Patient (1996) The Bridge Party. Passage to India (1984) Indian village women at the Marabar caves. A Passage to India (1984) Reading Dickens in the Amazon. Handful of Dust (1988) The Party. Indochine (1992)

54 59 62 64 65 78 98 113 114 137 152

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

This book is written for the everyday viewer in order to dismantle, through scene-by-scene analysis, stereotypes and false images of the East/Global South which circulate in the minds of the viewing public of Hollywood and other dominant cinema. Generally, films depicting the East/Global South or the internal other (American Indians, Asians, African Americans, and Latino minorities) lack significant historical or cultural context within which the viewer may form a more complex view. As a result, the same static colonially created images continue to be reinforced, paving the way for more such images, until in the end, these images constitute for many viewers the “truth” rather than ideological constructs. It is only by examining how impressions are built block by block that they may be dismantled. Equally important to Unthinking Eurocentrism is Provincializing Europe (titles by Ella Shohat and Robert Stam; Dipesh Chakraborty). In the case of reading these films, I use the latter to mean an exposing of the “white” subject, male and female, as equally open to scrutiny, unprotected by their hegemonic colonial armor. This move is essential if the stereotyping of “otherness” is to be properly exposed. The objective of this book is to draw attention, through film analysis, to a genre of films which I collectively call the ‘Eastern’ (see Footnote below). I choose six representative films: Gunga Din (Dir. George Stevens. RKO Radio Pictures, 1939); The Moonstone (Dir. Robert Bierman. BBC, 1996/7); Lawrence of Arabia (Dir. David Lean; Horizon © The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_1

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Pictures, 1962; The English Patient (Dir. Anthony Minghella; Tiger Moth Productions, 1996); A Passage to India (Dir. David Lean; Thorn EMI, 1984); A Handful of Dust (Dir. Charles Sturridge; London Weekend Television, 1988); Indochine (Dir. Régis Wargnier; Paradis Films, 1992); and Heat and Dust (Dir. James Ivory; Merchant Ivory Productions 1983).1 An epilogue looks at a few examples of contemporary transformations in the ‘Eastern.’ While there are hundreds of films that are set in the East, my choice reflects both literary origins, and general cultural influence. All of the films I chose were major cultural influences in their day. In some ways, they stood for landmarks whether exemplifying ‘the white man’s burden’ (the film drew from Kipling’s poem, Gunga Din 1890), or the first detective novel (The Moonstone), whether the famed legendary life of a white man who took common cause with Arabs, or a bestselling novel that went on to Oscars as cinema (The English Patient ). The other choices also reflect literary classics. Therefore, while my selection is by no means exhaustive it offers enough examples of powerfully circulating stories involving the East or other parts of the Global South as backdrop. The term in this study—the ‘Eastern’—needs justification (see para above). Eisele first used the term in reference to Middle ‘Eastern’ locales, in counterpoint to the Western (68–94). I use it as a concept to include the Global South. ‘Eastern’ is used to indicate a ‘fractal’ (in the sense of reflecting it in fragments) mirror image to the western. The East is the site of the West’s oldest colonies and ‘Eastern’ used here as shorthand (see Footnote 1, p. 2). Similarly, ‘Hollywood’ represents not just studios located in California, but a form of films dominated by the Global North. It too is a shorthand rather than to be taken literally. Hollywood/Pinewood/PBS/BBC series occupy a hallowed position in cinema. They share European protagonists, the normativity of a European way of life, and any locations outside the Anglo-Americas are marked as strange. The films I discuss are not all technically out of Hollywood. Some are shot out of Pinewood, others in France or its colonies. However, often these films ended up being shot in Hollywood or completed there. But in formulaic elements, they can 1 All but one (A Handful of Dust ) are set East of the Suez. As a representation of one of the few texts which portrays British imperialism in indigenous America (Guyana), I include this text. To indicate my geographically inaccurate use of the term, I will refer through out to ‘Eastern’, for convenience, ‘Eastern’ signifying Eastern spaces-plus-Guyana.

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INTRODUCTION

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be justifiably placed under the signifier ‘Hollywood.’ If in English, or with English subtitles, they are likely to be viewed by English speaking audiences. I choose the term for its catchy appeal. Like Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, I use ‘Hollywood’ as a “shorthand for … dominant cinema” (Shohat and Stam 7). ‘Hollywood’ is not used literally but as a powerful signifier and as indicating “a state of tension and contradiction” (Shohat and Stam 7). They also discuss Hollywood’s world hegemony and its attempt “to initiate generation after generation into the European paradigm” (62). Shohat and Stam pointed out the normativity of Europe (leading to the phenomenon called Eurocentrism) in Western culture and media. They probe what narrative and cinematic strategies have privileged European perspectives: we use the term Hollywood not to convey knee jerk rejection of all commercial cinema, but rather as a kind of shorthand for a massively industrial, ideologically reactionary, and stylistically conservative form of dominant cinema. (7)

Thus, the two terms in my title indicate a less literal approach and I have used the two terms as connotative signifiers, rather than strictly denotative terms. In today’s globalized world where borders leak into each other—as seen tragically by the coronavirus—we must admit the porous reality we live in. Hollywood is not ironclad geographically, any more than Eastern is. They are both ideological categories rather than strictly geographical ones. Shohat and Stam were among the first to point out that the rise of cinema coincided with the huge epoch of Empire, that while cinema and psychoanalysis, cinema and nationalism, cinema and consumerism have been noted as coincident, Cinema and Empire has not been as much (100). They discuss the hegemonic representation and power of the Eurocentricity which has so infected us. Their point is compelling. The world has been remade to allow no space for the deconstruction of such Eurocentricity. Even alternative movie empires like Bollywood, while inserting a totally different value system, still distort Indic phenotypes to make them appear Caucasian thus doing nothing to dislodge those long-held stereotypes that over a century of Eurocentric portrayals have established, to shore up white ‘superiority.’ My approach, while influenced by their discussion of Eurocentrism, is more interested in generic workings of the Western, the ‘Eastern,’

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the Adventure film, and Romance. My book attempts to look closely at narrative and filmic ways in which the Hollywood Western’s redrawing of geography, and the way the Western psyche was framed in relation to this geography, is transposed on to the genre I call the ‘Eastern.’ In Shohat and Stam’s narrative, audiences were diverted by the grand narrative of imperial film, exotic locations where the discourse continued to be constructed. Shohat and Stam have described the ideological process at work in the Western, summarized thus by Dana Oscherwitz: Shohat and Stam have also read the Western, one of the earliest film genres to evolve, as a filmic cousin to the imperial adventure. They suggest, for example, that westerns and colonial films shared basic narrative and ideological characteristics, with the primary difference being that colonial films were set in Africa, India, or other European colonies, whereas westerns told the story of imperial-style adventures on the American frontier. (114)

The myth of the frontier is itself intimately bound up in colonial ideology, according to Shohat and Stam, both because it emerged in the colonial era and because it valorizes the hierarchical, competitive logic that justifies imperialism (115). Shohat and Stam, he says, discuss the Western’s “genre’s ideological premises,” its procedures for fostering identification, and consistency; also, as showing Native Americans as “intruders in their own land” (119). Finally, the Western’s imperial narrative was compounded by the existence of a temporally condensed representation of history and a spatially condensed setting, both of which are also typical of the colonial film (115). Therefore, the Western, like imperial cinema, constitutes “a hegemonic colonial discourse” that encourages “non-Europeans to identify with the West and against their own interests and people” (see Oscherwitz). ‘Eastern’ deliberately refers to these films in counterpoint to the Western, the famed cowboy genre of the American frontier (see Footnote, pp. 2–3). While those films pushed the Western American border, these similarly pushed the ‘Eastern’/Southern frontier of Euro-American expansion. The films are both assertive and seductive, depicting conquest and ‘romance’ at the same time, and it is this process I wish to explore.

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‘Romance’ as a term is used in an unstable sense.2 It is not fixed in meaning but changes contextually. Romance can be used generically, meaning a legacy inherited through epic, literature, culture, and art; it can refer to human gender relations, as in a love story; or relations between man and nature (as in the Romantic poets); it can also vary profoundly cross-culturally. It is thus the quintessential unstable signifier—its instability itself throwing light on the ‘Eastern.’ Owing to my extended context in using both terms, henceforth I will refer to the texts considered in my book as the ‘Hollywood’ ‘Eastern.’ These films have been selected as examples set off from the hundreds of colonial ‘romantic’ Adventure films. Brian Taves has discussed these films’ formulaic elements as subsets of Adventure films dealing with swashbuckling heroes, pirates, James Bond films, and the like. Hollywood, Taves argues, produced these films, like Lives of the Bengal Lancer (1935), King of the Khyber Rifles (1953), Four Feathers (1939), and others because they followed a cookie-cutter model. They usually had a hero whose exploration took him to the other side of the world, a world whose primitivism yet warmth he viewed with an ambivalence that reflected his own inner conflicts. Faced with internal law and order or human cruelty issues, he ends up saving the situation by freeing the “natives” whose own rulers/oppressors were worse than the colonizers (Taves 172–199). These formulaic films make for static films which while portraying history, do not really interact with it. As Taves says, the colonial powers in these formulaic films were interchangeable, and the hero remained the same type as did the despotic rulers, the brigands, and other “natives.” The films I have chosen are typical of more complex productions, (even Gunga Din which is classed by Taves as an Adventure film, forms the first rung in the set I am looking at). They allow for a clearer excavation of socio-historical patterns behind the formula. These patterns reveal more of the complex ideological specificities, varying by region, colonial power, stage of colonization, gender advances, or regressions both at home and the colonies, the difference in kinds and levels of “othering” of natives as well as historical events such as wars, rebellions, insurrections and so on. In this they are like the Western which, despite its formulaic elements is often linked to specific stories and real border wars, however crudely or

2 Throughout this book I use ‘Romance’ in caps to indicate particular genres or plots of Romance; romance (small caps) is used to indicate the common noun.

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inaccurately represented. The Western hero too, like the protagonist of the ‘Eastern,’ does change and evolve. The films I have picked transcended the formula adventure films. Because of their superior cinematographic quality, the relative reality of their locales (many were shot on location), the specificity and details of the histories they portray, their all-star casts and more broadly “human” rather than stereotyped formulaic appeal, they are both richer and more insidious in their Orientalist messages. How and why this is so is what I set out to explore. Like Adventure films their effects rely on romance: in its loosest sense as both a generic cultural convention/tradition and the timeless human propensity to dream. The nuances of romance are implicit in the course of the analysis. I hope by juxtaposing conquest and romance, to make mainstream audiences aware of a double process: in particular, how it may end up both diminishing the East/South and reinforcing ignorance about its history and its complexity, thus setting the stage for ever-escalating political aggression. The geopolitics vary with time, region, and colonial power. But broadly, US/NATO interests are aligned. In each chapter, however, different world events might be highlighted. From the early years of cinema, through the panoramic classics of the sixties, to the Raj nostalgia/masterpiece theater remakes of the eighties and the revival of exotic locales in the nineties in more recent global productions: the book seeks to examine the way in which selected films portray the East. Gradually, TV, and then videos, and DVD began to substitute the cinema halls as places where the people’s fantasy worlds were fleshed out. David Thomson for example (2005), gives a bird’s eye view of the vicissitudes of Hollywood’s history in relation to changes in mass culture. I chose therefore, to foreground some examples of PBS masterpiece theatre, which bring back into memory forgotten films in this genre (The Moonstone, PBS 1997, for example). The selection of a technically nonHollywood example under the signifier ‘Hollywood’ is explained in the discussion above (pp. 3–4). The films offer a curious mixture of influential genres of domination such, I have said, as the Western, with the seductions of romance. There are however some internal contradictions in the story, contradictions examined under the dialectical trope of power and “romance.” To further qualify the term, romance is used not in an escapist, unreal sense, but in the sense of an internal impulse toward dream and fantasy. In other

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INTRODUCTION

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words, the quest of the ‘Eastern’ is not just territorial and economic aggrandizement, but the search for some way to fill the ever-enlarging vacuum of psychic emptiness in Western modernity. In the films I read, the Western and the ‘Eastern’ demonstrate the way the western frontier or The East/Global South are arenas for the growing internal contradictions; whether it is the ambiguity of the history of loot, disguised as benevolent Empire, or the lone desert hero who works out his anxieties. Interestingly, in each pair I examine the anxiety becomes more manifest. The breakdown of the conjugal couple surfaces in the last few pairs. The Western offers the bedrock of the comparison. By means of romantic sugar-coating of the bitter pill of the dominance of powerful nations in a new postcolonial world order, and the consequent ‘othering’ and non-agency of the other, such films do not represent a real East, i.e., an East that is not just the Westerner’s fantasy. The book argues that just as the Western marked the territory of the Western United States as conquered land, so too the chapters show the ‘Eastern’ to attempt to bring land of the East and South, Arabia, India, Guyana, Vietnam, within the sociocultural, economic, military, or emotional purview of the West. But in tandem with this effort of appropriation, is an equally seductive move. This is the creation of the ‘Eastern’ as a romantic genre that fulfills some of the most treasured elements of Western Romance literature, from those in the medieval Arthurian Romances, to Gothic, Romantic and Victorian Romances. In generic terms, romances in the literary or musical/cultural tradition stem from the European troubadour tradition, though other cultural forms of romance exist (the Sufi influenced traditions of poetry and song could be one example). Thomas Malory (1485) and Walter Scott are discussed in the introduction as examples of the chivalric or historical romance as a genre. It also includes the leaking of these romantic impulses into the experience of Empire and the rise of modernism. I argue that the Anglo-American viewer might be so seduced by the romances encoded in these films, that the covert continuation of imperialism is hidden. The individual chapters attempt to track this process. In the introductory chapter I discuss both the Western, the prototype for the ‘Eastern’ frontier film, its ideological limits that the ‘Eastern’ then assumed, and the romantic tradition which is interwoven skilfully into the fabric of the films. How does one dislodge the romantic from the dominating? In each pair of films, a romantic theme supplies the plot. Romance here is not merely in its most everyday use as a love story, but as a complex

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and terminologically unstable linguistic and cultural thread that runs through the human propensity to and experience of dream, including fancy, exploration, fairy tale elements, kings and queens, duels, castles, jewels, banditry, and large national sweeping histories. All of the above are united in that they exemplify an impulse to escape into fanciful and magical realms, an enduring desire of the human spirit. As such, this spirit is universal and draws all audiences, even the non-Western, into its purview. While it might draw on Orientalist elements, in Edward Said’s celebrated sense of the term, it is not itself only Orientalist, but something more broad-based. That is, it does not just rely on the so-called discursive construction of the Orient, but in the traces of cultural texts deeply embedded in the Western consciousness, such as the Romantic, Gothic, or the Arthurian Romance. In my introductory chapter, I investigate the long literary tradition of romance in the English literary and popular tradition, of relevance to Euro-American viewers who form the bulk of Hollywood’s viewing public. In the chapter on the Western, I lay out the parameters of my use of both the Western and Romance. Though generally romance refers to a love story, here it is not just between people connected in emotional intimacy, but other kinds of love: for nature, for landscape, for ideas. This is a love that is somehow divorced from the harsh certainties of reality. It partakes of mystical connection, but it can also be overly sentimental and thereby patronizing. The trajectory, of the rise and fall of the unstable genre, romance is the chief element in which the examples of ‘Eastern’ differ from my reading of the Western. Western, unlike ‘Eastern’ is an established genre. By Western, I mean, a subgenera of Hollywood films featuring at their lowest common denominator, ‘cowboys and Indians.’ But like Romance, the Western too is an evolving signifier. Certain typical elements in the Western summarized in most popular accounts are the lone hero, the marauding other, the inside view of outposts and ‘dens’ of the other, or the large scenic vistas. Alongside these the Westerns also show the crossover figure, the white man among American Indians or vice versa. The contrasting cultural practices of both are shown mostly with the ‘other’ at a disadvantage, in cross-cultural misunderstandings, frontier scenes of skirmish and others. Exotic ‘Eastern’ films on this model may have romantic themes of precious treasure lost and in motion across the world, or quests and mysterious bandits, or gorgeous palaces. Beautiful ‘native’ women may also figure. It would not be difficult to recall

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such elements in stories that have long seduced audiences with dreams of fanciful possibility. In the first pair, Gunga Din and The Moonstone, romantic images of the East circulating in the minds of the public are immediately conjured up. The native battalions in the army testify to a world of bugles, fanfare, and military pageantry in far off lands. The thugs, in their association with highwaymen and bandits, suggest adventure. However, both these romantic images are reduced to ideologically manipulated themes of domination, Western style, as the Indian forces are shown as servile and the thugs as savage, thus asserting Western superiority. The seduction of romance, however, draws the viewer in, making Gunga Din one of the most popular films of all time. Similarly, in The Moonstone, treasures lost and found, stolen and recovered, recall romances of antiquity where jewels have always stood for mystery. The ill fortune associated with gems in an aristocratic home, and its effects on an elite couple’s love story also supplies a wistful, otherworldly romantic motif. Jugglers performing magic tricks represent the romance of the alien. But ultimately, as I argue, the East is docketed as a place of strange gods and rituals, and a logic of spiritual and religious existence unfathomable to the Westerner. The film leaves the audience more alienated from the East and understanding the East even less than before. The big screen films of the sixties exploited the vistas of the Arabian desert in Lawrence of Arabia. It is not difficult to see why this film would be romantic, as the photography is mesmerizing, and the story of one man’s love affair with the desert offers much scope for dreaming. At the same time, the other elements of the ‘Eastern’ exist—the lone hero, the hordes of ‘native’ Arabs, the journey to the heart of their civilization, the battles, etc. However, the romance of Arabia and the reality of Lawrence’s appropriation of the Arab struggle against the Ottoman Turks go hand in hand. A different diasporic moment animates The English Patient (both the film and its novel source). As national borders crumbled with the breakup of large governments, and others were replaced by global units of commerce and currency, the story of a man of many nations becomes a romantic one. The desert, Almásy’s forbidden love, the exotic locations all add to the romantic charm. But where does the world of North Africa, where the story is set, figure in this romance? Is it actor or backdrop, and what does its ultimate status signify? Given that the author Michael Ondaatje (a Canadian resident, a Sri Lankan-born writer of Berger and

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Tamil descent) and director Anthony Minghella (a writer of UK-Italian descent) are both somewhat exotic to Hollywood, their representation of the ‘Eastern’ is interesting. Other elements, such as forbidden love, the desert, the quest, contest for love and other archetypal elements of romance, coexist with a marginalization of the real inhabitants, even though the author and director do have a non-imperial perspective. The next pair of films are A Passage to India and A Handful of Dust . They similarly juggle romance with dominance over other lands. Both are drawn from literary modernist sources, from Evelyn Waugh and E.M Forster. The emphasis is not so much on external dominance, but on the more modern one of seeking an existential primacy of the inner world. Romantic dreams are an important part of this look inward, and in the waning of Empire, travels to the colonies play a part in shoring up one’s inner life through, most notably, excursions into the primitive. Woman becomes important here as the locus of Western culture’s gender reconstructions in the wake of war. Adela Quested and Brenda Last are new women seeking after romantic notions of freedom. Her earnest quest takes Adela to India, there to confront her personal (modernist) crisis in her encounter with the ‘primitive.’ Similarly, her boredom and angst take Brenda Last to the city. In contrast to the urban rootlessness that destroys his family, Tony Last, Brenda’s landed husband, goes to Guyana, which is still unexplored territory. The story conveys all of these romantic impulses, that is, of travel, of the quest for the primitive, of the encounter with the wild, of frustrated longing and love that engage the viewer even as covert messages of western territorial ambition over the other. Woman by now has come to the fore as a desiring agent. In the next two films, she is a figure of power as Éliane Devries (Catherine Deneuve in Indochine). In Heat and Dust , Olivia (Greta Scacchi), the British ‘memsahib’ turned royal consort at the waning of Empire, is an object of desire for the powerful Nawab. But most significantly, in these two films, the woman goes ‘native,’ and forges intimacy with the ‘other.’ This is a romantic position in its disregard for convention, and, the films offer visual consolidation of this, being set in beautiful oriental settings, native clothing, and lavish palace scenes. Once again, the messages hidden in these plots may be uncovered to be ambiguous. The European women may be compared to their ‘native’ daughter/lover to see how far agency is given/withheld from the latter. The two films reflect a phase commonly known as ‘Raj/Empire’ Nostalgia, in the eighties and nineties.

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The decline of this type of ‘Eastern’ is by no means discernible. But a new trend, in the millennium, of films that notably return the gaze, is represented by innovative female filmmakers, such as Gurinder Chadha. Though also working with the conventions of romance, these films align the aims of romance with those of a cultural subjectivity denied to the ‘other.’ Another recent film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, similarly, suggests a changing world. Compared to many studies offerings a bird’s eye view of films portraying the East, this study tracks the filmic narrative in detail, pausing at the way romance interacts with ideological message. Thus, individual chapters offer scene-by-scene readings. Meanwhile a canvas begins to emerge, of the way public and private, through the ages (1939 to the 2000s) in colony and metropolis are intertwined in the imperial story as cast in dominant cinema.

CHAPTER 2

The Western and the Eastern

This book had its origin in my increasing frustration at the US public’s exposure through film, of images of the East, exemplified at worst, in Adventure films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Grotesque scenes from that film were calculated to alienate the Western viewer and cement the East’s ‘barbaric difference.’ Eyeballs being served at the raja’s dinner table, or a ‘barbaric,’ fabricated bloody thug rite at a Hindu Kali temple, were yet for many, the East. For many North American filmgoers, such films may have been their sole exposure to the world east of the Suez. Yet, with predictable regularity the United States sent its troops there and to Latin America, to topple governments, prop up their dubious politician friends, and bomb these places out of existence. These wars, besides taking many young lives, destroyed age-old monuments, maimed and tortured people, orphaned children and devastated their lives. Why America entered into these wars is a complex story which I will not go into. What I am interested in, is tracking one mechanism, by which certain attitudes to the East are made palatable through a collusion of genre, mood and content. That is, the formal characteristics of films which I have called the Eastern, are an echo of, and strategic departure from, the cowboy Western. By this means, audiences are conditioned to respond as they did to the Western’s conquest of the frontier. The Eastern is, as I read it, the next step toward territorial domination of a different frontier.

© The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_2

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The mood is often what I have loosely called romantic, tinged with a longing for other worlds, which appeals psychologically to the increasingly alienated modern viewer. Form and mood pave the way and set the stage for what I will be reading as the political content of these films, a potentially triumphal entry into these other worlds as saviors, lords, and rulers. I say potential, because through the six instances of the ‘Hollywood Eastern’, I read a trajectory of ascending, then descending confidence in this savior position, with the climax of saviorhood being reached in films like Gunga Din and Lawrence of Arabia. This introductory chapter elaborates these three elements: the form of the Western, echoed in and modified in the Eastern; the mood of romance, in the ‘unstable’ shifting sense indicated before; and the ideology encoded in the film’s action, of the reality of domination tracked in the six films made from the thirties to the nineties. To recap here are the broad historical periods they are set in. The Moonstone (The Sepoy Rebellion/Mutiny, 19th c), Gunga Din (the ‘Thuggee’ problem, post1857 India), Lawrence of Arabia (the Arab question in World War I), The English Patient (World War II), Passage to India (the Ilbert Bill and early 20th c India), A Handful of Dust (exploration and border mapping of Guyana), Indochine (uprisings in Dragon Islet, and the 1930 Yên Bái mutiny) and Heat and Dust (Thuggee in late Imperial India). An epilogue looks at the East writing back, or rather filming back, in the last decades’ entry of Indian directors into the Hollywood/Pinewood scene. I should add that though there is a rough chronology to the films, my argument is not chronological.

Hollywood Motion Pictures Histories of Hollywood (see Thomson’s many works on the subject) track the extraordinary story of the motion picture’s origins. Primarily, storytelling was its forte, but this was according to a formula. Chaston citing Bordwell says: “The conventions and logic of Hollywood storytelling mandate goal-oriented protagonists, psychological realism, and a conception of narrative causality that rejects coincidence and unmotivated actions (quoted by Chaston 14-18).” Within this broad template, many variations, from children’s films to potboilers to classics may be accommodated.

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From the beginning Hollywood was transatlantic in scope. Stories of migrating European producers and artists (many of them Jewish); the invention of cinematography, once again transatlantic as Edison and the Lumière brothers vied for supremacy; the seductive role of a constructed female ‘beauty,’ easily available sexuality; the incredible fortunes to be made, lost, and remade; the skirting around and survival in political issues; the thrill of large and increasingly worldwide audiences dreaming simultaneously. But the undeniable subtext of this astounding story was Euro-American normativity. As the decades progressed, this story included the internal others—Irish, Italian, East European, initially other but increasingly constructed as white. Jewish producers, ghettoized for millennia in Europe, suddenly found themselves at the helm of US nationconstruction in the image of whiteness. David O. Selznick, Louis B. Mayer, the Warner brothers, and many others were Jewish. Placed in this transatlantic context, which Thomson, the acclaimed movie critic foregrounds time and again, it is surprising that one of Hollywood’s first hugely popular genres was the homegrown all-American cowboy film, the Western. Ironically, despite the European origin of many cinema producers, the cowboy-Indian Western was one of the first major film forms that allowed many of the aspects of the newly developing film genre to be tried out on audiences.

The Western The term ‘Western’ was first used in an article (July 1912) in Motion Picture World Magazine. The characteristics of Western films had already appeared in nineteenth-century popular Western fiction and had influenced popular taste before the films appeared on screen. This origin in fiction carries through in the Eastern as well. Most of the films set in the East were based on literature: colonial poems, stories, biographical narratives, fiction. The Western was defined according to the setting, the American West. These films depicted the indomitable spirit of frontiersmen, the struggles and difficulties they supposedly overcame in their dubious seizing of Amerindian territory, as well as the slow waning of that spirit as the battle for the new frontier ended. The Western genre is one of the classic inheritances in American film history. Its broad span was from the 1930s to the 1960s (Darby 317) and since its earliest samples predate sound, it exists in the pre-verbal past and is thus welded into the cinematic imaginary. Surprisingly, many of

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the plots derive from old folk tales. Though plots focused on the Western frontier, this frontier extended to the Civil War and the Mexican War. The themes are order and justice—peace being usually disrupted by the ‘lawless’ natives, Amerindians, and restored by that unlikely vindicator of justice, the cowboy. The setting would be frontier bars, salons, lonely ranches, deserts, isolated spots in the Rockies and the Nevadas, and so on. Most of the protagonists in these movies wielded guns, were often seen drinking hard, rode wild horses, wore bandanas, and were the proverbial cowboys. The stock stories, of helpless white women rescued, or the cruel scalping villainous Mexican, or American Indian being killed by the cowboy hero, reinforced the genre’s entrenched gendered and racial stereotyping. Over time, this genre tottered a bit since it did not move along with the new world’s ways, and it cantered on old values that evolved. Though its heyday was in the thirties and forties, Western era in film continued until recent times. From Stagecoach 1939, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Stalking Moon, Apache, Geronimo, Cheyenne Autumn 1964, The Searchers, Winterhawk and others, certain elements are common to Westerns and suggest the developing ideology behind these kinds of films. After sound, the smaller studios began to churn out B-movie Westerns which were serialized. Perhaps the Eastern too might have stepped in, as sound was utilized in these films. A review by Flores (of Campbell’s study) summarizes it well and I quote from the review. ‘Campbell contends that the classical Western is defined though its tropes, which validate the “establishing of roots in the New World,” condone the “taming” of land removed from its native inhabitants, “domesticate the feminine,” and articulate “a renewing masculinity as the source and engine” for the settlement of the West (Campbell 11). Accordingly, Campbell defines the mythic Western hero as a man who stands for moral good as reflected by one or more of these major tropes (Campbell 11) and westerns for their craftsmanship’ (Flores 48). It polarized white and non-white, with the mountain dwelling, cowboy, Ranch and hobo constructed as a unified type versus the fast galloping, hidden, sinister, cruel by reputation, yet often romantic Amerindian marauder. Here I use ‘Romantic’ in the sense of unknowable, inscrutable, intriguing if threatening to women, and unreal. Though the whites encroached on Indian land, it is always the safety of the whites or the retrieval of abducted white women, that was the narrative interest of the films.

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Westerns were often used to convey simple morality tales where the socalled ‘good guy’ wins, but some were also morally complex. The Western typically takes these elements and uses them to tell simple morality tales, although some notable examples (e.g., the later Westerns of John Ford or Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven) are more morally ambiguous. The underlying project, though filmmakers may not be conscious of it, is to turn inhabited Native American land into an Anglo-US territory. This is done by means of several filmic narrative ways (Yavacone 32–44). The Western’s elements are described visually and sartorially colorfully: As a popular cinematic genre, the Hollywood Western—those riproaring, fast-riding, Hell-bent-for-leather photodramas with clear distinctions between good and evil—remain forever embedded in the psyche of countless Americans. Why wouldn’t they? As motion pictures, these titles conjure up one vicarious thrill after another. What young boy doesn’t dream of jumping on a white horse and, with a lasso twirling in the wind, toss it around the shoulders of a fleeing, black-moustachioed villain, trying to escape with some widow’s lifetime savings or maybe a fast draw, on a dusty main street, against a pockmarked desperado, some baddie, who has just pushed aside a local shopkeeper and wants to take over the town? (Frye 248)

Another element is an emerging paradigm consisting of the Western hero. The hero is usually a loner, a wanderer, an unsettled figure. He asserts his power usually in a single confrontation with an adversary, at a duel in the proverbial high noon. Because he works singly, his code of honor and chivalry are his hallmark. In this capacity he may come to the aid of a lone woman, though he is just as capable of cavorting with the typical salon prostitute. Chiefly the Western heroes are in contrast to the Native Americans derisively called “Injuns.” Usually the dangerous journeys taken by the heroes of Westerns are interrupted by bands of roving Indians. The classic from which the models of some Westerns were drawn is James Fenimore Cooper’s novel. Cohen’s review has discussed the Western prevaricating between the mythic and the domestic (Cohen 75–77). Pippin reads the Western’s conflict as that between an action hero representing a feudal world of “honour, glory and aristocratic independence,” “in favour of a commercial domestic society” that requires “security, cooperation and peace (Pippin 75) and of significance to the American psyche” (Pippin 18,160, note 18).

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Next, the othering or demonizing of the American Indian. Though each film represents a different tribe, their names are often themselves inaccurate misnomers: heterogeneous trees are referred to as Apache, Comanche, Sioux, Cherokee and many others, the general portrayal is homogenized (Shohat and Stam 180), quoting Bataille and Silet, say Native Americans are “collapsed into a single stereotypical figure,” with “wig, war bonnet, breechclout, moccasins, phony beadwork.” We see little of actual ways of life or specific philosophies; all being subsumed to one image, men on horses, long hair flying to the sound of war whoops. Shohat and Stam had offered a template for Native American representation (59). War with Native Americans constitutes the staple of such films: While early Eurocentric Westerns frequently portray the ‘Injuns’ as dishonorable villains, it has been said that the later and more culturally neutral Westerns (notably those directed by John Ford) gave native Americans a more sympathetic treatment. The perilous journey across the Wild West, trekking through Indian territory (as in Stagecoach) or the specter of bandits terrorizing small towns (as in The Magnificent Seven) are elements that will recur in the Eastern. We will see these elements in Lawrence’s journey across the desert, Almásy’s journey through North Africa or the Thugs attacking the British frontier settlement at Muri. Robert Murray Davis’s discussion of landscape in the Western is useful here (Davis 323–324). The landscape is another element. As setting, the American landscape replaces the studio in Hollywood after the 1930s. Producers of Westerns used desolate corners of Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming. Some of these, including location at movie ranches, are used for the films I discuss. Often, the vast landscape becomes more than a vivid backdrop. It becomes a character in the film. After the early 1950s, various wide screen formats such as CinemaScope (1953) and Vista Vision used the expanded width of the screen to display spectacular Western landscapes. In one summary, “John Ford’s use of Monument Valley as an expressive landscape in his films from Stagecoach (1939) to Cheyenne Autumn (1965) places the various characters, settlers, Amerindians, soldiers, in scenes with huge primordial mesas in the plains and deserts of ‘the American West,’ which tower above them” (Darby 5).

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Westerns often stress the harshness of the wilderness and frequently set the action in an arid, desolate landscape. The Western simultaneously romanticizes the vistas as a necessary expansion of the human spirit, while ingenuously depicting the trickery and racial stereotyping of Amerindians accompanying the project. The desert or canyon setting is a major issue in the Eastern as well. Specific settings include isolated forts, ranches, often using newly minted techniques of cinematic effect, deserted frontier towns are shown. The staples are, the Native American village or the small frontier town with its saloon, general store, livery stable and jailhouse. Apart from the wilderness, it is usually the saloon that emphasizes that this is the Wild West: it is the place to go for loud and raucous music, women (often prostitutes), gambling (draw poker or five card stud), drinking (beer or whiskey), brawling, and shooting. In some Westerns, where civilization has arrived, the town has a church and a school; in others, frontier rules still hold sway. Another of the Western’s narrative tropes is a journey, usually in a stagecoach and usually containing a few Anglo women, through American Indian territory. Another is the journey to recapture an abducted white woman. The threat of the American Indian is often presented in terms of a threat to the women. This occurs in Stagecoach, in The Stalking Moon and many others. The journey is metaphorical as well as literal. The cruelty of the Indians is usually shown through massacre of helpless homesteaders; the converse, which is the cruelty of the whites and rape of Indian women, is rarely shown. Though the ‘whites’ are either, a scruffy, unkempt, foulmouthed type, or military men who usually come to the rescue, there is often a hero figure, played by a prominent actor: Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and others. Fourth, certain stars and producers were associated with these films, and the Eastern had the same tendency. The film’s popularity opened the door for Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson to become the screen’s first cowboy star, making several hundred Western film shorts. So popular was the genre that he even started his own traveling show, recruiting some of the figures based on real life, like Calamity Jane, “Wild Bill” Hickok, and “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself. The Golden Age of the Western is epitomized by the work of two directors: John Ford and Howard Hawks (both of whom often used John Wayne in lead roles). The fifth point is gender. In the Western, the masculine ethic, the abducted white woman motif, the binary between good homesteading women and the often-good hearted prostitute, and the settler woman

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cohabiting with American Indians and assimilated to that life, only to be reclaimed, are some types. Annette Kolodny’s foundational study, The Land Before Her (1984), and books by Nina Baym, Krista Comer, Melody Graulich, Cathryn Halverson, and Victoria Lamont still leave room for more women writers’ engagement with the West as a space for ideological understanding through imagination: “there is considerable work to be done to account for women writers’ engagement with the West as an imaginative and political space” (Cordell and Johnston, 302). The feminist perspective opens up a space of solidarity with the non-white “rightful” inhabitant of the land. As one of the essays says, “the rhetoric of the wild West continues to be a useful tool for claiming personal freedom for whites while perpetuating the erasure of non-whites” (302). Sixth, the relation of historical event to film narratives is a common element in both. The Western transmutes real historical events in US frontier history into narrative lines that constitute a genre. Famous battles are rendered cinematographically in wide landscapes in California or the Nevadas. Films like Broken Arrow (1950) and Ulzana’s Raid (1972) were historically accurate stories. Tom Jeffords (the first Indian agent for the Chiricahua Apaches) and the war with the Arizona Indians is represented in Ulzana’s Raid. Buffalo Girls (1995) depicts Custer’s last stand. Certain elements, such as the development of background soundtracks to indicate the nature of the foe, the impersonation of “natives” by mainstream actors, the shifting role of the Wild West, all have their counterpart in the Eastern, which this chapter will outline. Further cementing the ‘fractal mirror image’ ideas thesis, that the Western and Orientalist themes act in a pastiche-like concert with each other, it has been proposed that in fact the Orient might have been the model for the Western, making the whole thing a circular process (Schumacher 321–322). There are further remixes that suggest the ‘Eastern.’ One essay focuses on the film, Hidalgo, a twenty-first-century Western released in 2004 that stages European American encounters with Native Americans and Arab peoples from various locales across the Middle East (Kollin) She says: Film scholar Philip French once noted that while the historical background in the Western is often used for larger mythical stories of adventure and intrigue, “the tales [are] as much about the hopes and anxieties of the time in which they were made as the period they were set” (quoted in Kollin 6). Hidalgo appeared in theatres one year after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and

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in the midst of the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 war on terrorism. It should not be a surprise then that the film stages generic Arabs as substitute Indians and potential threat to the cowboy hero. (quoted in Kollin 6)

Further. Kollin explains: …historian Melanie McAlister explains that in the post-World War II period, U.S. interventions in places like the Middle East have often been presented through a discourse of “benevolent supremacy,” a framework that supposedly distinguishes American overseas power from that of previous European nations and that justifies U.S. policy in those regions. McAlister (McAlister, Epic Encounters, 11, 30) contends that the term “post orientalist” best describes the changes in representation that emerged during a time “when American power worked very hard to fracture the old European logic and to install new frameworks.” This particular American post orientalism is “one that revitalizes, in a more subtle form, the insistence that fixed cultural differences must structure the organization of political power.” In staging the race between cowboys and Arabs, Hidalgo (2004) enters discussions about American national identity and foreign policy, particularly the nation’s post-9/11 role in the Middle East as Americans struggled to make sense of the nation’s new mission in the world. (Mc Alister, quoted in Kollin 7)

A curious twist is that the genres of Westerns was itself framed by the Arab other. So, we are really tracing the wheel coming full circle. In the narrativization of the expanding frontier, the encroaching whites push the indigenous peoples further and further from the lands they occupied, and in doing so, mark the frontier they occupy, and which signifies the expansion of Euro-America. From the many routine Westerns, to classics like The Last of the Mohicans (1826; film version 1992) and more recent films like Dances with Wolves, certain elements in the plot mark the frontier’s expansion. There is the homesteading family, often a victim of Amerindian marauders. The US troops usually follow to protect settlers. There is sometimes a crossover figure, a white man raised among Indians or vice versa. There are both the good Indians and the fierce Indians. Generally, the better the Indian, the closer he is to whites. The film usually has one scene of savagery, in which Europeans are sacrificed to the wild rituals of Amerindians. Though the better of these films are not without sympathy for the Native American’s loss of his territory, the overwhelming

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message is one of the inevitable passing of the land to more ‘civilized’ people. In many stories, in both genres, the protagonist is somewhat of an outsider in civilized society, finding his natural home in the conquest of the western or eastern global frontier. In the originary story of conquest, Pocahontas, John Rolfe would be that figure, for whom Pocahontas represents the virgin territory. As in Dances with Wolves (1990), Native American respect for the land is often contrasted to the whites’ rapacity, yet the storyline makes clear that there is no option but for the whites to take over. This particular confluence of plot elements, which romanticizes both the land and the natives in it, but refuses their possibility of survival and autonomy, is an essential part of the Western. In the following pages I look closely at two examples of the Western to further nuance the above elements. Meanwhile Hollywood’s technological innovations enhance the Western’s project. The Great Train Robbery (1963), The Red River and others use techniques, like jump cuts, ellipsis, and others to further their effects. These techniques, of interjecting different shots into each other, will be used with greater skill as the cinema medium progresses. But in The Great Train Robbery (1963) the taking over of a sleepy ticket office, the wilderness scenes as well as the combination of Wild West elements with domestic elements (e.g., by returning in scene ten to the life of the victim), suggest an interest both in the dangers of the outside and the comforts of the inside. I will return to this element in my discussions on Gunga Din and The Moonstone, as well as in Lawrence of Arabia, The English Patient , and the other films. In each film, the techniques of ellipsis and jump cut are used to different effect. Within these variations on the main themes and elements such as the nomadic hero, lawless but self-driven by his own ethical behaviour, the American story is being written. Railroads and oil empires are being built and the land ruthlessly cleared of Native Americans for white settlers. Under the plot movements of revenge, outlaw tales, marshaling in the frontier and so on, the ultimate aim is establishing a new kind of power over the wilderness. This stamp of white man on Nature and the indigene is outside of the law yet striving to establish a new kind of law. America that went on to become the most legalistic of all nations, wrote its laws in the story of its own lawless history. In a sense America is being constructed in this process, a history is being written on an implied terra nullis. In this the lone

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Western hero is the trailblazer, whether he is building a ranch, or an oil empire, subduing a marshal, or living like an outlaw. The discursive frames of the novel, the form of camera, of the discipline of anthropology, travel, photography, the ideologies of racial solidarity, master tropes of nationalism, temporality in realism, censorship forbade portraying Europeans negatively (Shohat and Stam 112). All these conventions privileged the unified European subject… (Shohat and Stam 103–105). They also point out ‘Imperial circularity,’ Gunga Din was remade as a western (113). Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Geronimo, and Gunga Din becomes Soldiers Three. Roughly one-fourth of all films between 1926 and 1967 were Westerns (115). From the items listed above, along with the types of ‘Eastern,’ we can see coincidences with what Frank Gruber listed as seven plots for Westerns, which I quote here in italics. The Union Pacific story. The plot concerns construction of a railroad, a telegraph line, or some other type of modern technology or transportation. Wagon train stories probably fall into this category. Some Eastern movies similarly deal with the introduction or use of modern techniques, mapmaking, or military strategy, exploration or “governing.” The ranch story. The plot concerns threats to the ranch from rustlers or large landowners attempting to force out the proper owners. Such threats from Thuggee or rebellion dot the ‘Eastern.’ The empire story. The plot might involve building up a ranch empire or an oil empire from scratch, a classic rags-to-riches plot. Plantation owners could constitute the Eastern version. The revenge story. The plot often involves an elaborate chase and pursuit, but it may also include elements of the classic mystery story. This applies to The Moonstone. The cavalry and Indian story. The plot revolves around taming the wilderness for white settlers. The outlaw story. The outlaw gangs dominate the action. Most Eastern movies also deal with wild lands or marauding thugs where law and order are restored by the European. The marshal story. The lawman and his challenges drive the plot. In the ‘Eastern,’ army men, policemen, collectors, and detectives supply this element. Gruber said “that good writers used these basic plots to create believable stories (7). Other subgenres include the spaghetti western, the epic western, singing cowboy westerns, and a few comedy westerns” (Gruber 6–7).

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The ‘Eastern’ (See p 3) If the conquest of the frontier and the development of a corresponding set of qualities and mode of operation in the hero, as well as a rugged brand of chivalry, characterize the Western, what is my justification for calling the set of films I have introduced earlier and that I am to discuss, the ‘Eastern’? In calling my group of films ‘the Eastern,’ I am departing from and refining studies that refer to the Middle Eastern film alone as Eastern. In these films John Eisele argues, with Beau Geste (1924) as an exemplary film of the genre, certain elements occur, such as a Western hero’s transgression that sends him to the Middle East, his identification with the land, though the people themselves (in this case the Tuareg) are shown as faceless and ‘flowing out from the sand dunes.’ The Western is characterized similarly, with otherness, argues Eisele with the Native American being the savage other, and offers the model for the Middle Eastern film, characterized by sheikhs, magic carpets, and the fantasy projections on the one hand and savage, barbaric customs on the other. In his schema of transgression-separation-abduction-reduction-inductionseduction-redemption-revelation-reaffirmation-mutilation, the emphasis is on personal trauma, loss of beloved, and personal violence by the other. Shohat and Stam also discuss the Western (59, 115–119). Eisele’s discussion, while useful, is more geographically circumscribed than mine. The Eastern I examine is not merely geographical location in the East, although it is of course that. It is a philosophy and attitude toward the East, as an entire region, that extends in one example, to Latin America as well. It is not merely an ‘Orientalist’ approach, in Said’s terms; in other words, a construction of and body of information on the East, manufactured by the West, and transmitted into film. Rather it is an ongoing and contextually changing historical relationship with the East as represented in film, which objectifies, sometimes romanticizes but still always ends up distorting the East. My analysis is on public issues of political geography, which traces how land and resources were won and lost, how this struggle leaves an East stereotyped and limited in its complexity, and the role of individual stories in this broader scenario. Having looked at the progress of the “Western” i.e., the “cowboy and Indian” film, we may see the above elements that might have been coopted into the “Eastern.” In the following chapters, we will see each of the above four ingredients: the demonized, suspicious, or invisible other;

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the loner hero; the white woman under threat; the romanticizing of the desert; the typecast set of stars and producers-directors associated with the roles in these films. Like the Western, John Ford, John Wayne, and Gary Cooper, the Eastern—in the films I analyze—has its own line up of actors and directors: David Lean, the Ismail Merchant-Jhabvala combine, actors like Alec Guinness, actresses like Kristin Scott Thompson who recur. Finally, there is the white woman’s solidarity with the non-white in both Western and Eastern, in later films. Versions of these plots in the Eastern might be: Many Eastern movies are set in the backdrop of railroads or other communications being disrupted by native thugs. Some depict company officials seeking to steal land or gem, the taming of the land in the course of mapmaking, etc. In this filmic ‘frontiers’ (i.e., construction of a fictional frontier via film) we must recall Edward Said’s celebrated concept of Orientalism. The orient he says, “is not only adjacent to Europe, it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the other” (1). At the same time, “Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles” (2). Such an edifice did not really exist for the Western, but the Western film’s techniques, as we shall see, recur in the Eastern. In a sense the Western might have constructed the ideological edifice into which the Eastern fits. In the beginning of his book, Said makes a distinction between the European construction of the Orient and that of Americans. America after all, had, until Vietnam, very little actual experience in the East, except of course as a source for “coolies” who remained invisible in the Western. Even though they participated in the Great Railroad construction, coolies were often asked to remove themselves from photographs. But the East, along with the frontier, becomes very soon, the subject of the Hollywood film. With The Thief of Baghdad (1940), exotic locations allow for fancy costumes and grand sets. As I will show in detail in a scene-by-scene illustration in the chapter on Gunga Din, whether consciously or not, new camera techniques were used to further consolidate the construction of the “other.” Still, the focus on the American film industry primarily, and the British only additionally, necessarily means it is not Said’s focus that I am adopting. America’s involvement in the East is twofold. The first

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is with the old East, as a distant former colonial space dominated by Europe from where the United States derives her mainstream cultures and democratic traditions. This involvement is primarily imaginary, to do with images, motifs, impressions, fantasies as depicted in both classics and popular books, films, and travelers’ tales. The management of the Orient by Europe, producing a view of the Orient, that, Said laments, substitutes for any free unbiased thought, action, and knowledge of the East as it is, necessarily affects the United States’ view of the East. Only a limited repertoire of overproduced images, produced by Europe of the Orient, is part of Americans’ storehouse. In the Indian case these include films like Clive of India, books like The Secret Garden, an endless series of Raj Nostalgia films and so on. At the same time (and secondly), the United States had its own academic, political, and cultural experience of the East: India, the Middle East, and the Far East. In the popular view, the former was associated with the countercultural “hippie” movements of the sixties, the latter with Vietnam and the Middle East with oil, and more recently terrorism and extremist Islam. From this mishmash of preconceived notions, the ‘Hollywood Eastern’ draws its material. Several salient features of Orientalism are mentioned by Said1 —for instance, that Orientalism is an idea, accompanied by a powerful corresponding reality; that that reality is internally coherent; that along with the imaginative construction, there is a relationship of power animating it; and that it has a remarkable internal completeness and consistency where every study portrait, travel note or philological study nestled into the overarching discourse—especially because these discourses fitted into socio-economic and political institutions which supported them. Thus in Said’s analysis, (1–28) Flaubert’s Egyptian courtesan is not a figment of imaginary wish fulfillment, she represents a reality of colonial courtesans’ supporting the military and bureaucratic structure of French occupation, a relationship dictated by the power of the Frenchman over the Algerian, and that this kind of literary representation fits into the discourse of French sexual presence in North Africa. What Said does not speak of is the backlash to this remarkable colonial correspondence between the imaginative, the real, the political, and the discursive, i.e., a backlash by the “natives.” Whether it be through

1 Edward Said. Orientalism. Routledge, 1978, 1–28.

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caste rigidity, Islamic fundamentalism or Chinese xenophobia, there most certainly was a backlash. This atmosphere of conflict too is the stuff of romance, for it speaks to the wistfulness of failed dreams. In the survey I have summarized earlier in the chapter, the Western is not seductive; it is a rough story of harsh landscapes, bloody wars, racial conflict, hard-bitten heroes, and tough heroines. Clearly the Eastern had to be more than that if it is to draw audiences into a part of the world that was not part of their experience, and was mostly, in newspapers, associated with poverty, barbarism, and disease. Yet the future of the twentieth century meant America was to advance into the East, for oil, for markets, and for cheap soon-to-be outsourced labor for commerce. Europe too was to reinvent its role in the East in a new postcolonial avatar. Lessons had to be learned from the colonial experience, of how to keep ‘natives’ in their place, without losing their goodwill, even adoration, while extracting wealth from them and establishing both psychological dominance over the inhabitants and physical dominance over the landscape. The wilderness of the Western was replaced by a frontier of ravines, deserts, caves, and other rough terrains we see in the six films I consider. All are unfamiliar terrain for the Western hero or heroine, but the journey in was dreamed up by Hollywood and Pinewood through the medium of the Romance plot. The Romance plot provides the seduction I discussed above. My analysis uncovers a framework echoing the Western that then dovetails into what I am calling the Romance film, which fulfills a particular masking ideology of the political designs of the Western world. I spoke of the form of the Western and the mood of the romance in the Eastern. Does the frontier tale contain a romance? Indeed it does. The romance is that of the land itself, and human romances are represented too, though rare. The land is virgin, unconquered, and portrayed in all its beauty. For the first time too, through film, the camera offers the possibility to present the moving picture of a land. It is significant that many of the films I discuss were based on narrative biographies or novels: the Victorian detective genre, the biography, the modernist novel, the Raj novel.

Romance A provocative dimension in discussing the Eastern as film is its representation of the romance of each story as compared to the original novel. The camera medium further highlights the difference of novel to romance,

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traditionally genres that have been opposed. The novel has been seen as more practical, social, realistic, while the romance has wish fulfillment components and is seen as tinged with dreaming. Film enables dream: the conditions of its watching, in a dark movie theatre, possibly alone, and it allows possibilities of sight and hearing unavailable to the novel. The completeness of the film in supplying an alternative world is very much like dream. The romance plot in film usually involves love at first sight, difficulties in love’s attainment and the endurance of love. But “romantic” is also used to describe the intimacy of an individual’s connection with the environment, a genre most notably traced by the romantic poets. The novel may deal with these things as with others, it offers a slice of reality in which an individual’s possible romantic connection with another or with the surroundings, is but one strand. In the distinction between the novel and romance, as a topic in narratological studies, two meanings of romance circulate, and they may be placed in productive juxtaposition. Using a geopolitical lens, Doris Sommer takes up the different connotations of romance in the United States and Latin America (82). Speaking initially about the marriage plot involving marriage between different racial groups in the Latin American foundational novel, she asserts their public function. That is, the hero, most often from the ruling racial and propertied class, marries the woman from an indigenous group. She calls these romances the “foundational fictions” of Latin America. In these terms, that of the nation-family, Doris Sommer has discussed the history of the opposition between the novel and romance (Sommer 71–98). Sommer’s critique tracks nuanced definitions of the romance through Chateaubriand and Walter Scott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and James Fenimore Cooper, and critics like Georg Lukacs, Perry Miller, and Myra Jehlen. There is such variety in meta-creative and meta-critical views of romance, that it behooves us to look at each case and each context in its specificity. For instance, in her account, European critic Georg Lukács defends the novel as objective and historical and sees romance as a kind of backward look, as opposed to novels which are more historically situated. “Scott’s heroes are average participants in historical change; Chateaubriand’s are uniquely sensitive victims of history” (Sommer 82). Sommer points out that Anglo-American criticism reversed Lukács’ distinction—the novel

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here was the domestic, personal genre, and romance “the genre of boldly symbolic events” (83). The following definitions of romance are relevant to the films I read: Dr. Johnson’s idea of romance as a “military fable… wild adventures in love and chivalry” (83). Scott as a romancer is interested in the ‘marvellous and uncommon’ and ‘with the extra-personal and social dimensions of a collective past’ (83). US romances, Doris Sommer says, have an undoubtedly ethicopolitical character. Instead of love stories, we speak of the Romance of the Wild West, of the Bayou, of the Mississippi. In Latin America, on the other hand, says Sommer, erotic plots accompany nation-founding and grand political messages, so epic and romance are one. Nation-building, an epical venture, goes hand in hand with exploring emotional sensibilities. Thus, political and emotional are linked, unlike in the United States where ‘romance’ does not involve a human love story. Sommer goes on to speak of how Hawthorne and Melville declared themselves to be writing romances instead of novels, and that the genre of romance expressed better ‘America’s mission’ (83). The very fact that these novels depicting US issues, but containing no love interest, were still termed romances suggests the public external (male) nature of the plot, as opposed to the more feminized domestic themes of the classic British novel, for instance (see Nancy Armstrong). One thing we notice in both Scott and Hawthorne is the devaluing of female writing, compared to that of these male-authored grandiose romances. Daniel Boone and Natty Bumppo epitomize the romance of the frontier, Moby Dick (1851) or The Old Man and the Sea (1952) could be read as the romance of man’s encounter against nature. To recap, there is then a paradox—these ‘romances’ are not about the usual themes of romantic novels and later films, i.e., love, and the trajectory from love at first sight to union. But ironically, the missing love story in the American case, or in medieval romances like Arthur’s Camelot, is precisely how critics define the American romance: “they were precisely not novels because they were not love stories.” Anglo-American criticism saw novels as domestic, romances as more public (Sommer 83). American novelists like Hawthorne ‘insisted they were writing romance… because of their dedication to America’s mission’ (83). In Perry Miller’s famous words: ‘the true burden of romance in America… was not at all the love

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story. What all of them were basically concerned with was the continent, the heritage of America, the wilderness’ (83) (Perry Miller, Nature’s Nation 31 Quoted in Sommer 83). The romance of course meant feminizing the wilderness, but equally America was Europe’s ‘imaginary realm’ (Sommer) where the romantic dreams of Europe were fulfilled. In this sense, Gatsby is a great exemplar of this ‘romantic readiness.’ But Sommer points out what this allegory misses, that the wilderness was woman, “the object of man’s desire and the source of his guilt as a conqueror.” A latent debate on the gendering of nature, famously ‘red in tooth and claw,’ is brewing, for in the Eastern, the films I am discussing, the desert, the caves, the ravines could equally be seen as masculine, suggesting thereby a homoerotic romance of the land. In further examples Sommer declares that “as in Latin America, European foundational fictions sought to overcome political and historical fragmentation through love” (84). In a version of this, Latin American novels she says are “a marriage of historical allegory and sentimentality” (84). Sommer reads the romance as the glue that holds together the Latin American nation and states that young, newly independent nations that are tenuous require this. Here she departs from Georg Lukacs’ view of romance as reflective of historical purpose and optimism. For instance, Walter Scott’s romances are seen by Lukacs as more historic, forward looking, versus the Chateaubriand sentimental novel which sees its characters as ‘victims of history.’ As I stated above, colonial history as in Scott’s grand representation of the actors who were nevertheless fighting English colonialism, offers a different twist on Romance. The colonial/romantic twist does apply to the Eastern film because all these films do focus on events in the historical past, but with a colonial focus. The suppression of Thuggee, the Mutiny, the Arab wars, the World War, the Indochinese conflict, etc., are some of the themes. The marvelous romance of Empire, as dreamed by the rulers, enters into the colonial locale. It is in the idea of the colony, however, alien and faraway, being part of a ruling nation’s collective past that is provocatively played on, for these romances hope for a collective future with the colony ruled by the imperial power, built on a collective romantic past. Thus, Indochine pines for such a world, as does Lawrence as does The English Patient . Romantic dreams give rise to their opposite, dystopic nightmare in Passage to India, or Handful of Dust .

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For despite Sommer’s reading, it is ironic that Georg Lukács should extol Scott’s ‘manly’ heroes on grounds of England having achieved its bourgeois transformation. Scott was Scottish and the so-called bourgeois British confidence was achieved at the expense of Scotland, whose submerged colonial status is not acknowledged in this view by Lukács. Even master nations boasting of fictional heroes, have their enslaved, colonized, their insecure and unhappy. Unlike the realist novel, of which Scott was an exemplar, film is in a unique position to demonstrate this, without the self-assumed omniscience of the author. Thus, Scott’s authorial voice may claim a romantic grandeur for Ivanhoe, but the film version will allow the viewer to decide for himself. In the films I read, even as the lure of the East is romanticized as the sphere of the European adventurer, the internal struggle is also evident, the underside of romance. Lawrence’s words in the film, Lawrence of Arabia, where he bitterly speaks of his illegitimacy, or Adela’s nervous episodes, or Almásy’s angst or Tony Last’s crumbling personal life, or Olivia’s forced abortion, are all symbolic of the tainted romance with the East. Film also provides both the vista of exotic spaces, and the closer view of individual motivation through facial expression and non-verbal gestures, as well as the interpersonal interaction of conversations. Once again, the viewer is free to decide how to read these signs. In the novel, either the omniscient author may guide the reader, or the reader may judge in varying degrees of subjective response. But the novel affords less of a shared collective visual response: compared to film reading novels is a lonelier activity. Doris Sommer has said that in Latin America romance was the ‘supplement,’ or the correction, for a history of non-productive events. Instead of heroic events, romance elevated the domestic love story to the status of heroic romance. Thus, these novels assumed an analogy between the nation and the family. But what could be a corresponding analogy for the role of romance in the ‘Hollywood Eastern’? Does it function as a correction for the seamy side of Empire, or of US aggression and arrogance in their Manifest Destiny, the very spirit that animates the romances? The true relations between nations, between US armies in Vietnam or Iraq and the people of Vietnam or Iraq, or between ruler and colony is largely unknown to the mother country’s viewing public. These places are only known as places where bombs are dropped, or collectors die of dysentery in remote outposts. If in Doris Sommers’ Latin America, the family is analogical to nation, in the Eastern, the analogy is that supreme colonial

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institution, the club, where at best colonial and colonized mingle and at worst the former shuns the latter. The club is an attempt at an interconnected world through a kind of international bonding. It is significant that in so many of these films, the colonial club is often featured, be it an army barrack club, a lavish tent in the oasis, the International Sands Club, the dance club in Indochine—and ironically most often the connection with actual people fails. The club is an appropriate analogy, a club composed of both the East and the West, which is the analogy for the United Nations that US Manifest Destiny is going to preside over. Significant also, in defining the Eastern more precisely, is Sommer’s discussion of how the requirements for these romance heroes change. Sommer points out that in Latin American foundational romantic fictions, heroes reflected the need of the hour. For instance in the second half of century, founding fathers were needed, not fighters; more hardworking Anglo-Saxon types instead of the emotional Spain descended races; chaste love instead of sensuality, so the continent can be peopled legitimately; the masculine hero against outside threats and the feminine hero who reconciles equally legitimate members of the nation-family. She also lists many varieties of family and many varieties of foundational fictions, as they help delineate the contours of the new world nations, not pure Spanish anymore, but attempting to mix with indigenous, and willing even, initially to let in some Anglo-Saxon. This changes as US aggression in the South increases. These admit of quasi-incestuous families, patriarchal families, narratives of abuse, both masculinized and feminized models for men, within the Romantic tradition. All these romances help track the contours of the changing continent. Could the Eastern be attempting romance as the glue to sell their entry into the East to its people? Are these films attempting any kind of connection? Sommer’s analysis suggests a direction in which my analysis of the Eastern could go. In each film the different contexts cover the following. The film Gunga Din represents in the protagonists, qualities required in Kipling’s age when, post Mutiny, it was essential to win over the ordinary Indian soldier, even while presenting a control over law and order. Thus, the gallant rogue’s triumph over the depraved Thuggee; and their good-humored egalitarianism allows for friendship with the water carrier, the sycophant Gunga Din. But this combination required of the British colonial soldier hero was at the expense of India. Its religion, its ethics, and its self-respect all lay in shambles.

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In The Moonstone, set in an earlier period, the East India Company’s rapacious soldiers are shown to be corrupted by their eastern sojourn, the country homes they come from being gracious and principled, even though internally riven by debt and avarice. In the film version, shown on PBS, the somewhat incestuous romance between cousins as well as the tragic romantic longings of the maid exemplify a quotidian upperclass world in contrast to the occult mysteries of the East. The ordinary decency, trust, and loyalty in the English country home is opposed to the thieving Englishmen abroad, and contrasted to the wandering vengeful priests, whose society seems so unsafe, and who bring death and danger wherever they go in their desperate search for the stolen moonstone. The qualities required in Lawrence are bravery, leadership abilities versus tribalism and the ability to conquer the desert through intrepidity and brave forthrightness. In The English Patient the mystification of the self-denying European pursuing colonial knowledge is beginning to fade, just as the Marabar Caves are dystopic rather than romantic, a trope of dystopic tropics continuing in A Handful of Dust . In the last films, the romance of the East plays havoc on personal life. In each one, masculinity is differently portrayed. The family role is different, as is the role of love itself; the club as metaphor for UN is different. To conclude, the Eastern Romance genre can be distilled in the following manner: The status quo The loner The exposure to the romance of a land, a person, an idea (parties, introductions) The development of this romance (trysts, trials) The obstacles (family, nation, tribe) The obstacles succeed The resolution The colonial genre The status quo with everyone in his place (scenes of separation of groups) The exposure (scenes of commingling) Attempt of the protagonist/s to cross borders (more intimate scenes) The fiasco The resolution The paradigm suggests elements of both the formula used in the Western and its reinvention in the Eastern.

CHAPTER 3

Treasure and Thugs: The East as Mystery and Disorder

This chapter looks at the role of two films, Gunga Din and The Moonstone. Gunga Din was initially a poem (1890) by Rudyard Kipling. The film was a take-off (1939) of the poem, directed and produced by George Stevens, and made by RKO Radio Pictures. The Moonstone was a novel (1868) by Wilkie Collins. The original film adaption (1934) was directed by Reginald Barker and produced by Paul Malvern for Monogram Pictures Corporation. A recent version of The Moonstone, directed by Robert Bierman in 1997 was made for television by the BBC and Carlton Television in partnership with WGBH of Boston, Massachusetts, aired again on Masterpiece Theatre. This is the version closest to the text, which I refer to in this essay. It starred Greg Wise as Franklin Blake and Keeley Hawes as Rachel Verinder. This version is well known to audiences, and I therefore place it chronologically after Gunga Din. While not literally out of Hollywood, it is one of those films I classify as “Hollywood” (see Shohat and Stam, page 4). This chapter reads the two films as erecting discursive boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate loot in the colonial context. William Dalrymple says:

© The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_3

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One of the very first Indian words to enter the English language was the Hindustani slang for plunder: “loot”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was rarely heard outside the plains of north India until the late 18th century, when it suddenly became a common term across Britain. (Dalrymple 2015)

The consequent imaginary ‘worlding’ in these films creates a distorted picture, a fabricated reality. In Gunga Din, the film’s message both duplicates and belittles the positive historical image India was gaining in the thirties. In this period, two albeit contradictory images, of the Gandhian movement on the one hand, and the popular perception in the West of the effort in the Allied war by Indian soldiers, spread. Similarly, The Moonstone obfuscates the story behind gem theft which was recalled in recent times by periodic controversies bout the return of the Koh-I-Noor from the Crown Jewels. A recent book by William Dalrymple, Anarchy (2019) describes the loot by the East India Company in a remote Welsh castle. The riches include hookahs of burnished gold inlaid with empurpled ebony; superbly inscribed spinels and jewelled daggers; gleaming rubies the colour of pigeon’s blood and scatterings of lizard-green emeralds. There are talwars set with yellow topaz, ornaments of jade and ivory; silken hangings, statues of Hindu gods and coats of elephant armor. The ‘Eastern’ I have been arguing, may be paralleled with the Western, in constructing a correspondingly powerful set of images of the East. Three elements in the ‘Eastern’: the treasure theme, the related banditry themes and the army theme are all read within the genre/form of the Western, but in The ‘Eastern,’ they are accompanied by a romantic mood. In this, Gunga Din and The Moonstone complement each other. If in one three British officers takes on the uncivilized wilds of Thuggeeinfested India; in the other, three Brahmins turned jugglers take on nineteenth-century England. In Gunga Din, two plotlines structure the film. One, Ballantine’s marriage and retention in the army is a kind of male bonding, Western type theme. Second, the rise to sepoy status of the lowly bhishti Gunga Din for his help in subduing the Thugs, a more romantic theme glorifying the British army. While obscuring the real theft that is of India itself by the British (now that it has been taken over by the Crown), the film presents England as the enforcer of law and order. The East plays the

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role of cementing male bonding through the savagery that needs to be quelled, and the necessary martialization of the Indian. To understand the representation of Thuggee, we need to turn to a discourse well known in the United Kingdom albeit much more demonized in the ‘Eastern’: that of outlaws, highwaymen and pirates. Regarding treasure in the history of piracy in the Americas, particularly, we have seen similar maneuvers carried forth in the treasure tale (Parkes, 332–345; Wood 61–85). Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883/serialized 1881–1882), Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906; First published by J.M. Barrie as The Little White Bird, R.M. Ballantyne’s Coral Island (1857) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1886) to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and its latter-day avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean (film series 2013–2017), are narratives, which, even while being wish fulfillment and romantic boys’ dreams, turn on the encounter of law abiding, economy obsessed civil and military British society with the evil world of pirates (Blake, 165–181). Though ‘trading and raiding have, historically, gone hand in hand,’ colonial ideology needs to separate them for the justification of colonialism. In recent studies reinstating piracy, it has been argued that these pirates were no other than disbanded and disabled veterans, who sought to eke out an independent living off the high seas. Captain Hook and Long John Silver, are not only fearsome, but also disabled. Parkes argues that pirate society is created by the law of public assistance for disabled veterans (Parkes 340). Piracy also signifies a certain ‘degeneracy’ of the imperial adventure, a degeneracy which is also paradoxically romanticized (Loman 1–26). The similarity between piracy as a homegrown phenomenon for Europeans, and the Thuggee which is the subject of Gunga Din helps the ideological dismantling this chapter is concerned with. The submerged truth behind the ‘Eastern’ is wealth transfer from the Indies and beyond to an industrializing West. Martin N. Murphy develops a transhistorical view of piracy and the connection between ‘trading and raiding’ through the ages. Accordingly, colonial narratives have one recurring element: the treasure hunt. If the Western was about the acquisition of land, this subset of the ‘Eastern’ was about transferring money from the rich East to England. This wealth was in the form of gold-plated domes, temples filled with gems, revenue from farmers as taxes established by the Permanent Settlement.

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Typical Westerns present the conquest of the West for the settlers, as a struggle for survival rather than as a genocide. But the civic legitimacy of settler culture if at all asserted, is hardly convincing. Westerns were characterized by a nomadic and tentative settlement: the dusty settler town, often a street consisting of a madam’s brothel, a bar, where gambling and shooting took place, the odd assortment of characters—like Buffalo Bill Cody or Wild Bill Hinkock or the odd hangers on like Bartlett and Jim in the film Buffalo Gals. Stock scenes from these films consist of the opening grandiose landscape, the marching band scenes, the barroom brawl scenes, the wild adventurer scenes, battle scenes, and others. Though, like Westerns, the ‘Easterns’ were many in number, this study looks at some representative ones, adaptations of literary artefacts or classics already built upon an ideological legacy. Many are based in the British colonial experience albeit either filmed in Hollywood, using Hollywood actors, or in non-Hollywood cinema which drew from the charisma of Hollywood (popular or blockbuster films). As Thomson has argued, British films took a back seat to Hollywood pretty early. Many of the ‘Easterns’ I discuss straddle both the United Kingdom and United States, but tended to be, in the end, partly shot in Hollywood. The Moonstone and Gunga Din were both written in the heyday of Empire and first filmed when that Empire was still in place, albeit threatened by World War. Both were based on literary sources. Both are adaptations of a book/poem written in the heyday of British colonialism in India, The Moonstone under East India Company rule and Gunga Din drawn from a poem by Kipling of the same name written in the late 1800s, after the Crown had taken over. In the Moonstone and Gunga Din, dates of origin in literature, first production and remakes, are varied and productively anachronistic. Gunga Din the poem, appeared at a later imperial moment than The Moonstone, when Queen Victoria was Empress of India. But the film version of Gunga Din was made at around the same era as the original The Moonstone, the thirties, in the beginnings of sound cinema. Thus, a half-century separates the version I read from the Kipling poem, while a century or more separates The Moonstone from the Wilkie Collins novel. Films are often a way of rethinking literary history from the perspective of the moment of viewing. Thus, Kipling’s poem, Gunga Din, 1892, is of the same broad period of Victorian hegemony as The Moonstone. However, by now, the perceived roguery of East India company fortune hunters was replaced by the rogue soldiers serving the Crown.

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Both films give cinematic mileage to the East as a place of mystery, violence, lawlessness, superstitious madness, and inscrutability. Its religion is shown as bizarre and corrupt and violent, and its subalterns are loyal to the colonizer rather than their own leaders. Thus, through the mediums of film and public television, they may be termed the ‘classic’ ‘Eastern.’ Both engage actively with the locale as well as imaginary of the East in the minds of the viewing public in Europe and America. In terms of timing, Gunga Din was released at a time when Hollywood was producing its first feature films. Correspondingly, the version I am reading of The Moonstone, was released when Cable TV was fast replacing cinema. The form of the Western, translated to Eastern locales, I argued in the introduction, cashes in on the audience’s imaginary of dominance with respect to the ethnic other as a justification for land grabbing or suzerainty over land. But the aggression implicit in this venture is muted, transformed, I suggest by the mood of romance, or longing of various kinds, that makes the ‘Eastern’ more palatable. Gunga Din was a box office hit in the cinema of the 1930s. The film historian Cull noted how audiences loved Gunga Din. (Chapman and Cull, pp. Preface xi; 33–51) Even as progressive a playwright as Bertolt Brecht it is said, wept on seeing it (Cull, 85). But despite its British Empire theme, Gunga Din, with its cast of Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. sporting British accents, was received ‘as solidly American.’ In this gap, British subject matter, but American spirit, we may discern some of the US imaginary that fuelled the Hollywood ‘Eastern,’ in the decade before the Second World War. Gunga Din, Jaher, and King say “…must be understood in its historical context, with America en route to World War II and India on the threshold of independence”, 34–35: By the late 1930s, Hollywood was ready to look more critically at British hegemony. America had become a superpower; Britain, weakened in World War I, was already in decline. The modification of Hollywood’s BritishIndian epic was imminent. Participants in the production of Gunga Din could feel it. The tension permeated the script, the casting, the acting, and the directing of Gunga Din, yet most participants seemed only intermittently aware of their ambivalence toward Britain. Although they wanted to sustain its defence against the growing threat of German attack, as Americans, whose nation was born in the War for Independence, who identified with Wilsonian world liberation, and who took pride in the Philippine Independence Act (1935), they naturally sympathized with subordinate nations yearning for self-determination, especially with India,

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which, even in England, was increasingly considered ready for autonomy. By the mid-1930s, the political situation in India had made the old Hollywood screenings of India seem dated and inappropriate. In 1935 the British parliament, after negotiations with Indian political groups, passed the Government of India Act, which gave the large Indian provinces virtual self-government in local affairs under the ostensible control of elected Indian… (33–34)

If Hollywood is ambivalent toward the British Empire, what of the wealth transfer theme introduced earlier? There are two contradictory themes at work. US right to lands a la the Western, must be vindicated, while British Empire airs must be taken down. Choosing as protagonists, the rogue English soldier (played by Americans, rather than an upper-class haughty Briton), who is a parallel to the cowboy is an effective narrative move. The Empire film depicting the English upper classes, prior to Gunga Din, is symbolized by Korda’s Four Feathers. In his film Korda supplied an example of the British Empire film. In that story, the main character, a peace-loving son of a general, deliberately absconds from active duty in the Middle East, and subsequently needs to vindicate himself from the charge of cowardice. He disguises himself in Arab territory and saves each of his former fellow officers and friends, thereby establishing his bravery. As he rescues them, he sends them back to the woman he loved and lost. Here is a romantic element, reminiscent of Arthurian legend where all bravery is linked to romantic success with a woman and the plot structured with each victory being reported to the lady love by the loser. All of his exploits are measured by his success in winning back his lady’s love. We have here an example of the Empire film beginning to reflect the internal conflicts in the rulers. The Arabs, however, are shown as no more than a backdrop. In films like Gunga Din, more of the East is shown, but more like the Western, the protagonists are not held by British notions of honor. The first task of the ‘Eastern’ is to get the viewer to forget s/he is in India, a land millennially occupied by its rightful inhabitants. One of the ways this is done, is by setting up a crisis for the “settler” rather than for the indigene. This is a technique in Westerns as well. The aim in the Western is to build a sense of terror. The deserted village is a stock element in Westerns. Typically, in films like The Stalking Moon, such a village signifies a raid by Indians. Gory corpses litter the fields. Traces of cannibalism appear. The viewer immediately associates the homesteader whose family has just been massacred as the victim as well as the

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rightful inhabitant. After the threat of Native Americans raid subsided, the challenge often came from the outlaw. Along with the outlaw threat, a 1952 film like High Noon (1952) or a film like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), along with myriads of others, follows the narrative plotline of a journal, by coach or train. The journey that causes the suspense is a plotline Gunga Din takes up. High Noon and others that were representing a world after the West was one, substitute Native Americans with the white outlaw. The Marshall or “good” cowboy figure stays in the township to defeat the outlaw. In High Noon, the marriage between Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper is threatened by the return of the outlaws; the use of Ballantine’s marriage in Gunga Din likewise suggests a domesticity which supplies normalcy to the whites encroaching on others’ land. High Noon is a remarkable Western in its day for its positive portrayal of both the settler and the Mexican woman, as well as a skilful use of quotidian time (the clock moving toward the showdown at high noon is one of the motifs). Yet it offers domesticity and the duty of the hero to protect the frontier town from marauders, be they Native American or outlaw, as a way to normalize settler presence in the town. The stealing of land and of treasure is forgotten in this desire to uphold both family values and law and order. The films’ music as well as action turn on the fear of the outlaw. The second technique is to render the rightful inhabitants in a binary fashion: the good ineffectual native and the bad native. The third technique is to render the bad native’s threat as somehow ineffectual. Here the difference from the portrayal of Native Americans is noted. While there, the cowboy’s strength is affirmed by the fearsomeness of his adversary, here the British soldiers are also comical or belittled by the clownishness of their thug opponents. The US soldiers are, it is implied, dealing with a fearsome foe, while the British are dealing with jokers. Fourth, the thug opponents at once suggest Indian freedom fighters and US white supremacists. They dress like Gandhi, whose Salt March was broadcast through documentaries, and Carry candles in the dark like the KKK. The effect is a totally unmoored signifier whose reality is totally subordinated to the ideological role they perform. In Gunga Din, the British Army is threatened in a slapstick fashion. There is a grandiose British-American imperial beginning, denoting the passing of grand world leadership to the United States requires replacing

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humbler images from the settler era. The grandiose opening scenes in Gunga Din contrast the Empress Victoria with the bhishti, the water carrier, Gunga Din. In evoking images of Queen Victoria (Victoria et Imperius), the film places itself squarely in post-Mutiny history when India passes from the East India Company to the Crown. Victoria Regina Impetrix is the first shot, followed by the flag. Victorian images of servility are evoked by the bhishti ringing the bell. The thematic emphasis on sound highlights the newly introduced marvel of sound in films. The sound of the bagpipers echoing in the hills of the Afghan frontier (though Thuggee was more common in the ravines of the Central Provinces). The bhishti in the first scene, ringing the gong, the sound messages transmitting warnings of danger from one ‘pultoon’ to another, the water carrier blowing the bugle as the warning sign, all play crucial roles in the story. The sounds are all those of the military pomp of the Western army in the colonies. Kipling’s line describing Gunga Din ‘of all them blackest crew/the finest man I knew’ recalls the hierarchies of black and white, with Indians labeled as black. At this point, the Hollywood stars are announced: Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks. The music by Alfred Newman, plays an Imperial tune. A man in ‘langoti,’ a loincloth, cuts a wire, pickaxes. Cut to a scene of soldiers approached by a group of men in dhotis who want protection, ‘detail halt.’ They wear dhoti. ‘Ghoda wala aa gaya’ (the horsemen are here), says a man with his face smeared by boot polish, speaking in accented Hindi; the second man speaks with a normal Hindi accent. We have been introduced to the colonial context, to communications across pultoons, and finally to the thugs dressed uncharacteristically in langotis (loincloth). The next scene begins with Gunga Din the water carrier, bringing water to men, the British soldiers. The camera then shifts to British generals discussing a security concern, with the frontier village in the background. They speak about how the weather is affecting their investigation. The official character of the scene, the very British discussion of weather, contrasts with the haphazard Western. The camera focuses on the generals, but also offers a wide angle shot, a sweeping look at what seems like a deserted village, very like a Western frontier town, filled with empty houses. These houses seem to be abandoned, suggesting an attack that has just occurred. A similar effect was achieved in countless frontier towns and outposts just raided, and in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A soldier is then seen searching the village. He suspects something suspicious and the background music

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is accordingly loud. This time the camera uses a close-up shot, closing in on the actor’s face and his reaction. It is shown quickly, with accompanying music, suggesting an impending attack. The hooded ghostlike thugs are shown killing some guards. The village per se seemed empty at this point. However, a soldier finds a house with men inside it trying to hide. The scene ends with the enemy viewing what the soldier was doing and high-tension music is played again to indicate that another attempt will be made. The camera techniques reinforce a message. While Amerindians were represented so as to inspire fear, these figures inspire slapstick comedy. This is not a ‘native’ to be feared but one who is too childlike and clownish to rule. Moreover, the Indian character is always a shadowy mimic: actors who were supposed to be Indians were actually British or American with ‘black face’ make-up. The camera also portrays the village as impoverished, villagers as “dirty,” while the soldiers seem very clean and organized. This is quite different from the Western. The comical, shadowy representation of thugs versus the terrifying signs of an Indian attack. The homesteaders in the Western rely on the colonial army outposts to protect them in times of need (The Last of the Mohicans, The Searchers [1956], Hostiles [2017], The Man who shot liberty valance, The Stalking Moon). The colonial army posts are similar to the Marshall’s headquarters in the frontier town’s outpost. Just as in The Moonstone, British order is contrasted to Oriental chaos, here too the army is the point of civilized reference. The next scene, in Muri, represents a classic—the classic army post with heavy Victorian furniture, and maps on the walls. The British ambience is conveyed in the camera scanning the uneaten meal, English teacups, British food of chicken legs and peas. This is an evocation of a frontier, shot in the Nevada mountains, in a tiny frontier village, which also reminds one of early films like The Great Train Robbery. There is both the desire of freedom, for a kind of frontier freedom, where guts, cheek, and sheer courage are valued. This is personified in the character of Cutter (see on The Great Train Robbery [1963] Chapman and Cull, 23). Elements like the telegraph, bandits, firing sequences, in The Great Train Robbery gave the spectator a sense of being directly in the line of fire (see 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 23). In Gunga Din, the son of Pandu Lal, the thug leader as we later realize, cuts the electric wire. The camera angles deliberately emphasize a generic thug figure without any particular close-ups, and the faces unrecognizable for the shoe polish

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they are smeared with. The thugs seek protection from troops, then attack troops. In this scene the sets of Tantrapur are reminiscent of the deserted frontier post in the Westerns. Markham sahib is a classic colonial figure. Having set the scene for lawlessness, it now remains to recruit a Western-like hero—i.e., former troublemakers. The Western cowboy, like the outlaw, the highwayman, the pirate are romantic figures in that they stand for individual principle and daring. So too the fortune hunters recruited to fight the thugs. Let us take, for instance, the Bar Room brawl. The framing assigns protagonist status to the three soldiers. First, they are shot from a low angle which gives them a larger-than-life appearance, diminishing the others by contrast. Framing within a window is a technique which raises them to the level of principal subjects. This technique can work in two ways, suggesting a confined interior, but also highlighting the subject. The exchange between the army men downstairs and the heroes upstairs is shot following classic Hollywood techniques of editing. The shots are continuous with each other and draw the viewer into the scene. For instance, the two men come down from the window at the same time, in a choreographed manner. Finally, Cary Grant’s character, Cutter, is introduced while he fights his way upstairs to where his friends are, and the scene ends on a comic note. Cutter (Cary Grant) throws the soldier out of the window thereby establishing his primary status. Thus, the three men are identified as heroes signaled by the musical score that accompanies their actions and the camera angle. Similar techniques alert the viewer when a villain appears on screen, in Gunga Din, the villain is the opposite of the white hero: a racialized “other.” The fight scene with Cutter is fake and choreographed, his victory is unconvincing against so many men, and though hit on the head, he is not disoriented. The music is distracting and loud, a kind of Wagnerian victory march. The cameras kept their focus on the three army men, thereby establishing their centrality. The scene as a whole is noteworthy as it is a tavern brawl, a standard for Westerns, but not for the British colonial film. We may recall a scene in Buffalo Gals, when Calamity Jane does her bar room thing in a British pub, shoots to make a point, and finds everyone hiding under tables! To which, she declares that the British are ‘skittish.’ In Westerns, shooting in bars occurs often, as these are hangout points for disbanded soldiers, bored hangers on, bounty hunters. It is a place to practice straight shooting, often outside the law. All of these elements

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are duplicated in this British Indian colonial situation. The ideological message here is the ushering in and acceptance of a new kind of hero, lawless and rough, who is still given the license to shoot at the racial ‘other.’ Here are no Mr. Darcy’s or vaunted gentlemanliness of the British Empire. The ‘Eastern’’s ‘other’ is also distant from the Amerindian. Despite his image of barbarity, the Native American is offered a grudging respect, perhaps in order to assert heroic status to the scruffy settlers who defeat him. Despite the stereotype of the ‘barbaric’ Indian, the Amerindians in Westerns appear fleetingly on horses, long black hair flying; as dignified ‘others’ who conceal more than they reveal, taciturn or speaking in languages incomprehensible to the viewer. Like Geronimo they are often known by reputations rather than actual encounters. Sometimes they are feared but never seen. In The Stalking Moon (1968) Gregory Peck, a retiring border security officer helps a settler wife and child of the feared Apache chief, Salvaje, in a journey across Amerindian Territory. Here the woman is neither gentlewoman nor prostitute, but a captive with a child born of her Apache captor. As they travel to his homestead, they encounter his trail of savagery; stagecoach stations, towns along the way, all settlers therein massacred in his search for his son. The film relies for its horror film effects, in his unrepresentability. In the archetypal Western, Stagecoach, the settlers are a motley crew: drunk doctors; derelict Southern gentleman, embezzlers. Once again, the Indians are barely seen, unrepresentable, except in swiftly moving horses. The policing of women’s image where the woman Dallas is shunned but ultimately wooed by John Wayne (the Kid) is all the social compass one sees. But contrast here too the Amerindians remain an unrepresentable presence, part of the myth of the frontier. The unrepresentability of the Amerindian prepares for the invisibility of the Amerindian after the West was won. Eisele, who first used ‘Eastern’ to denote Arab representation in films says the same: For the western, the Native American starts out as antagonistic but ends up as sympathetic, while the reverse is true of the ‘Eastern’. In addition, these genres intersect since they both deal with a locale that is “elsewhere” or liminal, other than the site of the dominant ideology (for the western, this is the East Coast of the United States, while for The ‘Eastern’, it is Western Europe and the United States). However, they differ in the orientation of this locale. For the western, the locale, although it is “not-East Coast” is still considered “America,” while for The ‘Eastern’, the locale has always been “not-America.” (Eisele 72)

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I have argued that in later films when Amerindians were no longer a threat, films portrayed developed and often sympathetic figures like Winterhawk. In earlier Westerns the settlers are portrayed as the only flesh and blood inhabitants. But they hardly seem like rulers or victors. Here is where film like Gunga Din is significantly different, while building on the Western. Take for example the scene where Sergeants Ballantine, McChesney, Cutter and the water carrier Gunga Din lead a skirmish in Tantrapur against the Thugs, after they receive a telegraph message. The Thugs are shown as primitive and ineffectual warriors in comparison with the British Indian Army, their forces appear to be weak, lacking organization and battle armaments. It appears that the film relies on Thugs for their Charlie Chaplin like comic effects. They run helter-skelter trying to avoid British hand grenades. While the actions of British soldiers are accompanied by more regimental battle music, the Thugs are portrayed as screaming in fear. That they appear so weak in front of the British belies the complex history of the discourse around Thuggee, outlined later. A certain ideology is validated; as in the Western, the British heroes are hard drinking, hard fighting, ‘hard-cussing’ types, this happens to coincide with the soldier in Kipling’s poem. The battles show the ‘otherness’ of the enemy: instead of war whoops and scalping, we now have men running around in dhotis helter-skelter. The belittling is focused on Gunga Din, a quislingesque figure, his betrayal of his own is meant to indicate the irresistible righteousness of the British cause. His lack of integrity is a running thread, for he betrays his own people. Though apparently kind and gentle, Gunga Din is shown as stupid and gullible. At several points, he shows bravery during the battle, but he is never heroic, always a clown. Cameratically, the scene is filmed via long shots giving a wide vision of the action during the rebellion. At most points, the camera faced the action head-on, trying to capture the expression of the British forces during battle, but when the Thugs fight they are nameless and faceless. Although the pan move is not used in the scene, the long shots were very useful. The tilt down, the most used camera angle in this scene, allows detailed representation of the fight. The music set the sound for a comical battle, comical in the adversaries are seen as clowns. The small set was well utilized, the camera angles offer a more spacious scene. In short, Gunga Din uses all of the developing cinema techniques of long

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shots, pan tilt, background music to reinforce a colonial racist Orientalist message. Technique is brought to bear on racial stereotyping. I want to pause here at the clownish, white tunic figures bumbling along clumsily in the war scenes. Summary of scholarship shows that thugs had a context unlike these figures who are shown as buffoons. After 1836, on the testimony of apprehended thugs, roving bands whose crimes remained obscure, were prosecuted (Kelley 30). It was all a part of that symbol of British governance, the Rule of Law. Several aspects of the imaginary of Thuggee are in direct opposition to the history that has been unearthed by historians and colonial archivists. Thugs fulfilled an important topos in justifying colonialism. First, according to C.A. Bayly, Thuggee was perhaps the “most celebrated case of orientalist myth-making” (5). Wagner comes to describe this entire mythical discourse as capturing British anxiety from “assuming control over human and physical terrain that the British did not fully understand,” and is “troped by figures of darkness, mystery, inscrutability, unpredictability, and unexpected menace” (Wagner 30). The real issue for the British was not the actual crime or punishment of the Thuggees, but rather “the ‘not knowing’ which threatens a more total loss of control” (Wagner 30). Wagner summarizes its popularity: The Thugs captured the Victorian imagination like few other things, and as the very epitome of the stereotypical image of religious fanatics they populated the same exotic realm as the Assassins, African leopard-men, witch doctors and cannibals… the popularity and idealization of highwaymen in eighteenth-century Britain certainly influenced the more romantic view of the thug as exemplified by Meadows Taylor. Even Thomas de Quincy toasted to ‘Thugdom’ and by the time that Wilkie Collins included three thug-like Brahmin priests in The Moonstone (1868), the word itself had found its way into everyday use, although its connotations in English are somewhat different from that of its original meaning. (Wagner 40)

Second, as a means of control. Thuggee was therefore established as a distinct category, “where it could be articulated in fiction as well as official discourse” (Wagner 34) ranked alongside customs such as sati, infanticide, and human sacrifice in terms of its impact on colonial representations of India. Kelley finds such representations as a form of suppression, an important element of early colonial India, as it provided “justifications

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of colonial rule that stressed the suppression of barbaric native customs” (Kelley 2). Third, the notion of hereditary crimes, which dispensed with the ‘rule of law.’ Suppression also translated through colonial court legislations, such as the Thuggee Acts of 1871, which “provided special rules for prosecuting the crime of Thuggee without actually specifying what that crime was,”… “ascribing a set of behaviours to collectivities suspected of crime without ever proving that actual crimes had been committed” (Kelley 3). This method of grouping entire peoples onto “hereditary crimes” has been a presupposition of British rule, coming into conflicts with a counter-tendency to impute a free, abstract, universal subject as the basis for liberal ‘rule of law’” (Kelley 3–4). The existence of thugs then comes to follow two implications: that the “anti-Thuggee legislation violated completely the principles of ‘rule of law’ professedly used to govern the subcontinent; or that similar thug-type entities arose as needed to justify repressive measures whenever uncertainty threatened authority” (Kelley 7). Fourth, the real intent was colonial economic gain. After 1911, four provisions of the 1971 Act were “more rigorously enforced,” such as extensive registration, forced settlements, separation of families for the sake of “reformation,” as well as “the provision of livelihood to the settled communities, whether of agricultural or industrial employment” (Kelley 10–11). It is therefore “now widely (if not universally) accepted by historians that the anti-Thuggee campaign of the 1830s was at least as much a public relations event as a policing operation” (Kelley 15), in order to exterminate “a type of life that was no longer deemed viable under the expanding interests of the East India Company” (Kelley 15), masking their economic interests through local police operations fighting crime, the case against the Thuggee being “hereditary crime.” Mike Dash sees hereditary crime as having “the same fixed and immutable characteristics as the functionalist theory of caste” (Dash 17), invoking a caste identity or race onto such legislations, making it the ideal method to “opportunistically to bridge the difference between individual acts and collective identity” (Dash 38). Fifth as a geographic unifier, a signifier of the lawlessness that justified British rule. An interesting aspect of Thuggee is its all India character. Before 1807, it was found in the Madras presidency and the ravines of Madhya Pradesh have for long been associated with Thuggee. Thuggee as a homogenizing concept that helped the British categorize under one

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overarching sign all of the resistance to their rule. In Kelley’s words, Thuggee begins to be repeated so often in colonial discourse. The phenomenon was highlighted in diplomatic correspondence, novels, press, ‘confessions’ of detainees, and prompted the erection of an extraordinary legal, intelligence, and police organization which defined the problem through historical studies, elaborate network analysis diagrams, and philosophical ruminations on the ideology of such movements’. (Kelley 5)

Patrick Kelley rightly reads Thuggee as an attempt at supplying, in British terms, a signifier. Unifying all violent resistance to British rule, in the form of small revolts, mutinies, subaltern unrest, under the banner of Thuggee. It was written about so often as a sign of the lawlessness that was the Indian ravines and countryside, a lawlessness to which the humble Indian was subject to. The British army and police stepped into be the guardian of the riot: “British authorities of the time here confronted by a bewildering array of violence, apparently stemming from multiple, inchoate sources. In an act of sheer intellectual assertion, they identified a bloody religious cult which systematically spread terror through the murder of innocents” (Kelley 1). All of the above aspects of Thuggee are reinforced in Gunga Din. Thuggee became a staple of colonial film. “It continues to inform the ‘western’ perception of the subcontinent and is still frequently invoked in modern literature and film” (Kelley 1). Another review says: “One of the reasons that Thuggee has proved to be such a persistently popular subject is in part due to its very graphic nature, which has also been exploited in several films and TV-series” (41), including: Gunga Din (1939), The Stranglers of Bombay (1960), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (Wagner). Wagner also weighs in on why such racist characterizations continue to hold prevalence. There is thus a whole imaginary of Thuggee that the film both exploited and reinforced. One that it was a primitive, archaic practice hearkening back to the occult powers of Kali. In the film, the thugs occupy a temple and their violent practice is passed off as semi-religious. Also important was the ubiquitousness of the popular association of Thuggee with India. Lumped with the so-called barbaric customs of infanticide and sati, it is still most people’s image of colonial India. Wagner considers the thugs depicted in the film as the epitome of stereotypical images, in the same “exotic realm as the Assassins, African leopard-men, witch doctors

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and cannibals” (see quote above) which captured the Victorian imagination at the time. A reason why British audiences were so intrigued by these thugs was by what Wagner calls “a romantic view of the Thug,” made by the popularity and idealization of highwaymen in eighteenthcentury British fiction, such as Meadows Taylor, Thomas de Quincy, and Wilkie Collins’s use of three thug-like Brahmin priests in The Moonstone (1868). Its connection to romances of highwaymen does however bear teasing out. Highwaymen were after all, romanticized and stories like Robin Hood, Lorna Doone, and others, of outlaws gripped people’s imagination. The idea of being a law unto oneself, of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, of taking on officialdom in the interest of the weak, even if done with violence, was romantic. What is striking about the representation of Thuggee in this film, and probably responsible for its very bad image everywhere is about how one sided it is. In this it is similar to the uniformly negative portrayal of Amerindians as ‘savages’ without any sense of the discursive processes they were subject to. The idea of the ‘roving band’ that threatened decent people was an image deeply ensconced in a post-pioneer, frontier, homesteading and wagoner society (5). The truth is that these films in perpetrating the ideology of Thuggee that Kelley, Wagner, and others expose, construct a history that plagues us to this day. Rioters in cities in the United States are routinely referred to as Thugs. The explosion of Thuggee was so overblown in the minds of the British public, it completely dehistoricized it. In fact, historians read it as a consequence of Mughal armies being disbanded. Thuggee may have originated as a result of British policy of militarization as they swelled the ranks of their army. Mughal rulers, under the mansabdari system, had their own armies and in some cases districts overlapped. When the British entered into collaborative military arrangements with erstwhile local princes, the armed armies, now disbanded, spread over the countryside. Significantly for the colonially constructed fearsome image of thugs, these bands of armed highwaymen were not feared; they were tied to their communities by mutual dependence. The local zamindars and landlords made use of them for protection, while sharing in the spoils they may obtain (Kelley 9). It is likely that the British targeting of these outof-work former soldiers further alienated them from their communities leading to more cruelty on their part. The close relationship between Thuggees and their respective zamindars also included a tax by the thugs to the local authorities, making their role in their communities in what

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Wagner describes as “institutionalized” and “normalized,” to the point where “thugs were regarded as an asset and a viable source of income at all levels of the indigenous administration” (Wagner 9). Thuggee, according to Wagner, were therefore not “an archaic primitive practice, but an aspect of the militarization of the general population during the Mughal period in the context of overlapping and interdependent jurisdictions” (Wagner 10). The imaginary Thuggee of the film not only erases historical Mughal context, it brings back a colonial image. It triggers in addition, associations with barbaric primitive groups like the Ku Klux Klan and at the same time, discredits other, important, protest figures like Mahatma Gandhi. In the temple scene, the men in white with lights would, to the US public, look like Klansmen. The name of goddess ‘Kali’ is pronounced incorrectly, and in scenes like the Thuggee initiation, the speech of the Thug, played by Italian actor Cianelli refers to a much-revered emperor, Chandragupta Maurya. While brahmins, a priestly non-violent, ritually elevated caste, are represented as fierce and blood thirsty in The Moonstone, the next text I discuss in this chapter, the thugs, a martial looking group— typically they wore shalwars and kameezes the pants/tunic, with belts of bullets slung over their shoulder—were represented in fakir like ways. The immediate impression to a Western public would in fact be of the Gandhian satyagrahis. Gandhi’s own sartorial statement when he went to meet King George as a ‘half-naked fakir,’ was a widely seen media image. According to Martin A. Jackson’s article ‘Film and the Historian,’ (Culture, 1974), these images of Gandhi were of a ‘peculiar Oriental who had outlandish ideas about independence and who wore a loin cloth.’ Moreover, Gandhi ‘being odd in appearance, full of surprises and engaged in the strangest activities, such as fasting or marching for independence,’ was a good subject for the new cameras. It was this image that was duplicated in the feature film. The article notes the similarity between the thug leader and Mahatma Gandhi, but in general the thugs themselves all recall the freedom fighters in their white dhotis (Choudhury, 153). The thugs, historically, would have been dressed in the costume of peasants, in fact rather like the three Brahmins in the film The Moonstone. They are dressed in rural Rajasthani costume, with its bright hues, and their moustachioed appearance is more Rajput than southern brahman, which is where ‘Seringapatam’ is located. This kind of anachronism is common in the ‘Eastern.’ Images are used pell-mell, out of context, to muddy the

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specificity of ‘Eastern’ reality so the British rulers may plug in their own stereotypes of what has been called colonial masculinity. Writing about Gandhi’s portrayal in this film, a 1939 issue of the journal Film India recalled an earlier cinematic attempt in 1935, when RKO had produced a two-reel comedy, ‘Everybody Likes Music,’ (1934) in which, ‘Our revered leader Mahatma Gandhi was portrayed as an immoral drunkard with a low woman in a cheap saloon. His figure, his dress, and all his peculiarities so sacred and dear to our nation were used to convey an exact identification, same as in Gunga Din, that could not be missed.’ For exhibition in India, the offensive portion in the film, Everybody Likes Music, was censored in 1935. Yet, this insult, it was pointed out, was ‘broadcast all over the world and the white man laughed at the man who we worship as a God in our country’ (Choudhury 154). So too the Indian army cements a controversial message. The Indian army was apparently beloved of the British public in those early years of cinema and the release of Gunga Din in the Interwar years is surely significant. It cements in the mind of the public the idea that serving in the British Army even against his own people is the natural duty of the Indian soldier. If we remember both Gandhi’s non-violent struggle, which was by then in full swing, and the atrocities already committed by the Army, the most infamous being the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the import of such a film glorifying the colonial army may be grasped. The army was composed of both British soldiers and Indian recruits and this conflation I will argue, serves the interests of Empire. The bhishti, suggested to be a lowly character enthralled to be a part of the great colonial enterprise, resonates with the audience’s exposure to soldiers from India. Haggith and Smith say the early years of cinema used footage from the War records to show Indian soldiers. The loyal sepoy theme, in which colonized armies fight for the colonizing country in the European war, is recalled in Gunga Din: Indian solders fight British battles, but the contribution of ethnic Indian armies was hardly acknowledged. Now in the Second World War, the US had not yet entered the war, and for audiences to see loyal British subjects fighting, is significant. Most of World War II after America entered the war was fought in Europe, North Africa, to Middle East Burma and the help of locals was likely required. In this war too, the colonized local peoples who fought and died for the French and the British, were forgotten afterward. The portrayal of American heroes as soldiers commanding armies composed of ‘loyal subjects’ from the colonies, has in this film a particularly telling context.

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India and members of the Indian forces were referred to in over 80 films processed during the war era, “37 Indian soldiers, in all their ‘tribal’ traditions, were featured in these films. Like the Scottish piper, the Gurkha sharpening his kukri or the Sikh displaying his kirpan, reinforced the idea of ‘primitive’ peoples fighting modern wars for their sahibs the British” (Haggith and Smith 45). The ‘Eastern’ then echoes the Western, while redrawing a new cinematic geography of the East. Edward Said’s account of the victory of the West over the Orient in the hegemonic and totalizing power of its representations, was disturbed by Homi Bhabha. In his concept or trope of mimicry, where in the colonized’s difference, ‘almost the same, but not quite,’ there is a space for dissent. In the Western, there is now and then a part Indian (pejoratively referred to as a ‘breed’ or halfbreed) who is impressed by the bravery of the white man, watches him in the shadows, and sometimes imitates him. This narrative element belies the strong cultural allegiance Amerindians, had to their own cultures: encroaching whites pretended, however, that Amerindians especially the mixed, secretly and not so secretly desired their way of life. A version of this is represented in the scene where Gunga Din is watching a regiment of British soldiers during a training session. He stands with his trumpet in hand, imitating the soldier’s postures. Cutter sees Gunga Din mimic a soldier’s pose and pretends to give him a mock lesson, teaching him the proper posture of a soldier and how to salute. Following Cutter’s patronizing “looking very regimental, Din!” the scene changes and focuses on the training of the soldiers, now standing at attention. The next sequence focuses on the trumpet. Cutter confiscates Gunga Din’s trumpet, on grounds of breaking the rules. Gunga Din servilely asks Cutter to return his trumpet, promising to use it when nobody is watching. Cutter considers, then returns the trumpet to Gunga Din. This scene ends with Cutter calling the regiment and Gunga Din at attention and dismissing the regiment. The ostensible reading of this scene is that while Cutter indulges Gunga Din, as one would a child, in his fantasy to be part of the military allowing Gunga Din to make the bugle calls, or play tunes to announce scheduled military activities, he is still obliged to acknowledge his indulgence illegal. This scene meanwhile portrays Gunga Din’s hero worship of Cutter and his attraction to military activities. Gunga Din is the one who commits the final act of bravery, however.

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Fig. 3.1 Cutter and Din. Gunga Din (1939)

Two historical factors should inflect our reading; first that a job in the British army offered a simple ryot a steady salary and security and that the job of blowing the bugle represents such permanence for Gunga Din. The scene’s emphasis on posture and salutes, the jocular contrast between Cutter’s pukka outfit and Gunga Din’s langoti, highlights an irony (Fig. 3.1). While colonial ideology sought to create mimic men, it was the asynchrony in the mimicry, the essential unfitness of the native and his lack of fastidiousness in exactly copying the colonial, that was both his mark of difference and emphasized his inferiority. But this very difference where the ‘native’ took what he could of colonial training, while retaining his difference. We may recall the scene in A Passage to India where Ronny Heaslop looks at Aziz’s riding collar and misjudges him, reading in his generosity (he had earlier lent a collar stud to Fielding) “an inattention to detail, a fundamental slackness which reveals the race.” The scene with the bugle, where Cutter’s lesson ends up being comic, but is yet shown as illegal, highlighting this process in the construction of the colonized.

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Finally, the ‘Eastern’ shows a deplorable ignorance of and negates the East’s cultural icons. Westerns often have a scene where the white pioneer, wanderer, tramp, or army man witnesses a scene of complete otherness that almost seems like a parallel universe. Indeed, in the world of the Western it is difficult to believe that the tough, rootless pioneers and the dignified, deeply rooted Amerindians occupy the same geographic space. But the filmmaker and the camera always place the white man’s perspective as a viewer. The camera is often from over the shoulder, behind the settler’s vision, offering a panoramic view of an Amerindian/settler battlefield, a view of retreating tribes. Never is the perspective through Amerindian eyes. This could be a buffalo hunt by the Apache, a sight of a war which the Amerindians have won, or other scenes. A dramatic example is in the film Buffalo Girls, where the wanderers Bartlett and Jim see a great migration of the Plains Indians; or when Calamity Jane sees a scene of carnage by Amerindians. There is a curious time warp that the film medium exploits—one feels as if one is gazing through the white viewers’ eyes, into some bizarre parallel universe. The white man is a voyeur of a parallel universe. The white man views the primitive/parallel universe sequence or the white man as prisoner in the ‘other’s stronghold. The ‘otherness’ is clearly shown, with the camera identifying the viewer with the white man’s gaze or point of view in a scene where the ‘hero’ comes upon a fearful scene displaying the ‘primitive.’ This happens in Westerns, where an observer, usually looking from a vantage point, with the camera over his/her shoulder, looks at the scene of a buffalo hunt by the Amerindians, or, as in Buffalo Gals, the sight of Custer’s 7th Cavalry’s last defeat, when chiefs such as Sitting Bull mutilate the dead bodies of the US battalion. This scene is intended to drive home the ‘savagery’ of the other, while at the same time asserting a parallel universe beyond the white man’s comprehension and ethics. Is this voyeurism of the primitive other different in the ‘Eastern’ when compared to the Western? In the Western, the context is clearly battle practices, whereas in Gunga Din the context is religious. It is their religion that renders Indians bizarre: and sure, enough the temples are the largest repositories of wealth. The same sort of viewing is portrayed in Indiana Jones when Indiana Jones sees the bloody rite at the Kali temple. Soon after, Jones/the viewer is himself/herself caught, imprisoned, but narrowly escapes death. The sense of a parallel universe is invoked again in the Kali temple

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scene in Indiana Jones. Incidentally, the film Gunga Din begins with an outrageous disclaimer, that the Kali scenes are based in history. Gunga Din’s Temple of Darkness seems like the ultimate prototype for the Temple of Doom in Indiana Jones. In the scene Gunga Din and Cutter are in the temple of the Indian “Thugs’” murder cult, hiding in the shadows while the guru exhorts his assassins to ‘rise and kill.’ The camera uses light and shadow to stress evil. While the temple is portrayed as a dark place, an assassin’s hideout, the guru is a rising leader. The cameras show all the assassins and the guru sitting in a grotesque version of a sanctum sanctorum, darkly lit, suggesting a priest like control and power of this guru over these assassins. The murder cult is exposed, and Gunga Din and Cutter discover the guru’s plans. The effect is achieved by slow paced music complementing the mystery and darkness of the temple and also the suspense of what Din and Cutter are about to discover. While the murder cult scene continues, the music keeps intensifying until the guru clearly exhorts his assassins to rise and kill. At this point, the music is at its crescendo as the moment of exposure and discovery. It is like the moment in the detective novel when the criminal’s confession is recorded. On the other hand, the actors of this scene are portrayed in a binary lighting scheme, dark vs. light. While make-up is dark, the robes are white. Cutter is the only actor that we can clearly see in this scene because he sets in relief the darkness of this scene, therefore, portraying himself as the light in the dark. In the Rise and Kill scene, … the villains or “Thugs” are shot with low lighting between the shadows, as opposed to the bright lighting in the first clip, highlighting the dark “Thugs” as evil. Gunga Din’s character although not evil, is portrayed as infantile next to Cary Grant’s character, reminiscent of Indiana Jones’ Chinese sidekick (And if things were not bad enough, the supposedly evil Indian characters are all Caucasian with brown paint). In Gunga Din, this image appears when Cary Grant and Same Jaffe (Cutter and Gunga Din) reach the Thuggee stronghold. To make this stronghold a temple at once reduces the religion to the level of an erratic cult, akin to devil worship or satanic cults. The important distinction between the concept of the ‘ishtadevata,’ (which sundry groups choose for their own group religious identity—such as Maa Bhavani, invoked by the Bengali nationalists, or even Kali Maa by the Thugs), and sanctioned popular religions which the majority of mainly peace-loving devotees worship at temples, is ignored. The placing of the thugs in a rich temple complex, whose gold the three soldiers view as treasure to be stolen,

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suggests that violence is a normal practice at temples. It is a serious misrepresentation, which has persisted to this day in films like Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Gunga Din uses stock elements from the Western, both of which represent the space of the United States/India as terra nullis, uninhabited, in the bar scenes, the frontier outpost scenes, the army scenes and the bizarre temple scenes. In all there is a suggestion that the British are the guardians of law and order. Compared to the rough settlers portrayed in the Western, here even the three rogues become upstanding British army soldiers, held up as role models for the lowly Gunga Din. Like the Amerindians in the classic Western, the Indian thugs and their leader are unrepresentable in any realistic fashion. Most are Caucasians covered in boot polish. But they suggest both the Ku Klux Klan as the Thug leader’s speech shows. Similarly, while the solidity of India’s architectural structures like temples, or its wildlife, elephants, cannot be ignored, they can be represented in outrageous ways. Many of the special effects Gunga Din is acclaimed for, serve to reduce India to the level of some dystopia. The first idol, see above supposedly in a Kali temple, has no pretense at authenticity. The face is like an old man, a sort of gnome or troll or leprechaun, with pointed ears, arms, and legs appearing from all sides, more like a circus contortionist than suggesting the cosmic symbolism of the many-armed Gods in Hinduism. The many arms signify the many faceted aspects of the Godhead and were often a way of accommodating tribal and indigenous belief systems. For instance, Shiva might carry a trident and a damru (divine drum) the one to suggest his power the other his connection to the Universe’s cosmic dance. Or Kali (standing for Time, from Kala time) might hold fearful images which symbolize the destructive, yet regenerative side of the fierce female principle. The iconography of Hindu Gods is of rich historical overtones, complex, of cosmic and deep philosophical significance and understood with the intended profundity by all devotees. Gunga Din’s ambiguous idol, supposedly kali, but with none of Kali’s identifying images, suggests none of these. Kali’s fearful images, used in the ‘Eastern’ to suggest mindless barbarism, actually carry a profound symbolism. She represents the negative dangerous aspects of Mother Nature, a manic energy gone destructive. When Shiva attempts to stop her, she sticks her tongue out and dances on his body, but is eventually quelled. All of the images correspond

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to the sixth century AD treatise on Devi Mahatmya (Bose, 34 quoted in Natarajan 18–19). The film’s idol indicates none of this rich mythic symbolism. Rather it is an image dreamed up from some confused patchwork of pre-Christian, ‘pagan’ images riven underground—a mixture of Viking (an axe-like object appears in one hand) and Celtic.

The Moonstone I transition to The Moonstone by juxtaposing the two stills of Hindu Gods from RKO’s Gunga Din (1939) and Masterpiece Theatre’s The Moonstone (1997). Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (1868) was set earlier, in the days of the East India Company, and the film’s many versions reflect this. The book was written in 1869, just after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, but set in an even earlier period. But the version I chose to read, after briefly glancing at the early film version was a PBS version produced late in the twentieth century (see ‘Hollywood’ as signifier pp. 3–4), because it most scrupulously refers to the original mid-Victorian book, though its contemporary departures are significant. In the earlier history depicted in The Moonstone, the East India company’s army is at the center of the film and presented in a much less positive light. The book dates the action during the Mysore Wars with Tipu Sultan, but though the film leaves that vague, we can conclude that some of the garbled references to “The Moon God” and the gem refer to Tipu’s reign. I will return to this later. The Moonstone is often called the first detective novel (1868) which drew upon colonial mysteries for suspense. It depicted the East as a sinister mystery seen in the domestic framework of the English country home. In The Moonstone India is represented metonymically by the treasures it yields, namely the diamond. The motif of the idol connects the two texts. The first idol in Gunga Din has no pretense at authenticity. Idols were at once the symbol of ‘heathen’ difference and the repositories of loot. In The Moonstone both aspects come together. The still of the second idol, from the much more recent PBS The Moonstone once again, looks more like an Egyptian god, Rameses, than any Hindu idol (Fig. 3.2). It only appears twice: in a dream at the beginning of the film, when Franklin dreams of Herncastle stealing it, and again at the end when the Brahmins return it. The inappropriate representation of the idol is a signifier for the whole historical fallacy of ‘Seringapatam’ or Srirangapatnam

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Fig. 3.2 Leprechaun-like Hindu idol. The Moonstone (1997)

where the temple is supposedly located. Here the wrong iconography— a diamond in the forehead, like the serpent on Rameses’s forehead—the geometric Egyptian style, rather than more circular construction of the Hindu idol, is part and parcel of a general indifference to any kind of historical authenticity, if not veracity, as well as a tendency to lump all “others” into one. As the following paragraphs will argue, this indifference is ideologically motivated, at once dismissive of the East India Company’s thieving maneuvers (they often stole from temples) and anxious to devalue India and its cultures preparatory to taking over by the Crown. The film reflects the early cinema’s use of background music to build up suspense, and as a signal to the audience about how they should respond. The phenotype of the Indian goes with sinister, jarring music, conditioning the viewer to think of them as suspicious types. Close-ups, long, and medium shots are also used to create the effects desired. The ultimate business of Empire was about wealth transfer, and in both texts the treasure theme is expertly camouflaged by the emphasis on military exploits in the one and detecting in the other. A diamond brings bad luck, its theft from a manor home is investigated, but the real owner is the temple in India. A gold-plated temple dome is sought, but the story is presented as the suppression of Thuggee. Detecting and Law and order usurp the theme of theft. In both the temple is the site of wealth, which my next section deals with.

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Both films, in their respective periods, would consolidate asymmetric power relations between West and East, even though in both, the genre of romance performs its seductive role. As I indicated in the introductory chapter, the historical specificity of each story is important to unravel before we can see how exactly “Romance” and Orientalist constructions work. Like Gunga Din, a similar contemporary context is evident in The Moonstone. Though the original film version of The Moonstone was made in the thirties, the version of the film The Moonstone I read is dated in the late nineties (1997) when world domination had passed to the United States. Hong Kong the last colony had cut itself loose, the British royalty was suspect in the public eye following the death of Princess Diana, and Harry Potter had burst on the world literary scene. Things English were in fashion, but it was important that Britain be on the side of anti-colonial thought. In both 1997 and 1869, when the book was written, the adversarial portrayal of armies may be linked both to the anti-war moment, but also to the growing disaffection with the East India Company. This is significantly different from Gunga Din. A link between the two films is via treasure. Treasure is mentioned both in the early scenes in RKO’s 1939 film Gunga Din when the three British soldiers stationed in what looks like a frontier province, but is identified as “Thuggee” territory and in the very first scene of The BBC’s The Moonstone. In The Moonstone India is represented metonymically by the diamond (Dalrymple 2015, 1–11). In Gunga Din, Cutter (Cary Grant) speaks of the treasure that he is looking for in an effort to excuse his rowdy behavior. Later in the film he is drawn to the golden domes of the Kali temple where capture by the thugs awaits him. The real reason Cutter is pursuing the Thugs, by his own admission, is that typical hobby of the English soldier in India, the hunt for treasure. Cary Grant says, in the cock and bull story he tells his commanding officer, from a private in a Scottish regiment the ‘privilege of diving into lake to find emeralds, the spoils of a Maharaja, Lake Singali.’ Cutter (Cary Grant) speaks of the treasure that he is looking for in an effort to excuse his rowdy behavior. Later in the film he is drawn to the golden domes of the Kali temple where capture by the thugs awaits him. The Thug stronghold, the Kali temple, is gold-plated, another fallacy, for this is true of only the most sanctified temples, like the Kashi Vishwanath temple at Banaras. Throughout, in both films, there is a contrast between Indian chaos and British domestic or official/military order.

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The film has introduced gold into the story, for the text from which Gunga Din is drawn, Kipling’s poem, says nothing about gems; but Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone begins with the history of the so-called yellow diamond the Moonstone. Wilkie Collins’ text contains several pages of the history of the fabled moonstone which is a mishmash of real history and fabrication. It is traced from Somnath, the temple sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni, in the eighth century AD, to The sword of Tipu Sultan (film 1990; based on Bhagwan Gidwani’s novel, 1976; 2009) around 1000 years later. Needless to say, none of this history is mentioned in the film. In fact the diamond’s story is given, from a Hindu point of view, a ludicrous origin: an unlikely idol in a temple, with more unlikely priests dressed as jugglers. The two films are on opposite sides as far as excusing the looting of treasure goes (Duncan). The Moonstone begins with an unforgettable scene. Captain Herncastle, uncle to the heroine Rachel Verrender, uses a bloody knife to cut a gem out of the forehead of a white stone idol, presumably somewhere in India. It turns out that the scene occurs in a dream, in a cozy Victorian interior. The film begins in a bedroom, with the couple asleep, a scene of Victorian rectitude with both in long nightshirts. This contrasts with the interior of a temple where Herncastle steals the stone, which houses the idol discussed earlier. It looks more like a palace, consistent with the representation of the temple as a decadent material space rather than a spiritual one. It resembles Tipu Sultan’s palace in Srirangapatnam (mistakenly called throughout British history as ‘Seringapatam’). The idol in the actual temple in Srirangapatnam is of Vishnu, deemed sacred as Vishnu on a Serpent. All of this detail is distorted in the idol of Siva in the film (who looks more like a cross between Buddha and Rameses) in white marble (Fig. 3.3). The reference is an inaccurate fallacy. This in itself is excusable as it is not obligatory for fiction/film to be true to the original, but the license seems more deliberately callous (particularly if we contrast the film with the book). As Herncastle wrests the moonstone off the forehead, the turbaned Indian men run helter-skelter (similar to the thugs in Gunga Din), the blood stained sword which removes the gem and the blood stains on the idol violate the ritual sanctity of the idol, blood being an impurity in Hinduism, but recalling that a bleeding Christ is a part of Christian iconography.

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Fig. 3.3 The idol in Srirangpatnam. The Moonstone (1997)

Given the storming of Srirangapatnam by Cornwallis, in a famous pitched battle, the representation of the gem theft, with the priests running helter-skelter, is a distortion. Srirangapatnam is a famous battle in the annals of the East India Company’s military history. In a popular film version The Sword of Tipu Sultan (first broadcast (1990) directed by Sanjay Khan (also producer) and Akbar Khan; produced by the company Numero Uno International). In “The Sword of Tipu Sultan” based on Bhagwan Gidwani’s book, a nationalist view of Tipu, reinforced by popular legend is told. The Moonstone was said to have adorned this sword. In any case there is no doubt that it took all of the East India Company’s Divide and Rule strategy, sowing dissension between Tipu and The Maratha Kingdoms of Mysore, and cantered in Srirangapatnam, to finally defeat Tipu. To this day, Tipu’s summer palace testifies to the grandeur of the monarch. There is a key speech by Tipu in that film, where he sees a continuity between America and India, he says that from Scotland to Wales, factories are producing weapons that at ‘Huston, Gaston, Birmingham’ shops are being constructed, and that at Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, weapons are being unloaded.’

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In the late 1700s, the trial of Warren Hastings, the longest trial in British history, gripped the imagination of the British public. Warren Hastings had been accused of personal corruption in the case of the Begums of Oudh, the charge of not living up to vaunted principles of the British in India. Kenneth Ballhatchet and others write of the developing, though hypocritical, ideology that the ruling race must be ‘above reproach,’ and the East India Company was scrutinized in an attempt to make a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate looting. These glaring historical fallacies may be contextualized in ideological terms. It was essential to empty gems of their history and domesticate them by attaching them to bad luck and Victorian intrigue. The diamond acquires a new identity as a thing threatening to the British rather than as a thing unlawfully stolen. The bad luck presumably comes from the unlawful stealing. By developing a discourse based on superstition, strange mystical curses and vows exemplified by the Brahmins in contrast to the elegance of the English country home, the diamond is placed in a premodern universe. Its history and the idol from which it is supposedly stolen, is so distorted as to be completely erased. In The Moonstone, the diamond structures the film, Herncastle steals it, Franklin Blake dreams of it and earlier delivers it to the Verinder home, is accused of stealing it, Rachel admires it and wears it, and it disappears. It is investigated by the English novel’s first detective, is pawned by a fraudulent debt-riddled aristocrat dressed as an East India Company soldier, Geoffrey Ablewhite via a Jewish citizen of London, Septimus Luker. It is tracked by a London urchin, redeemed and eventually reclaimed by the Brahmin jugglers, who appear three times (Fig. 3.4). They appear once seeking and rebuffed by the Butler Betteridge, once viewing, and once returning the diamond. The East plays the role of demonstrating the civilizing and ethical methods of English detecting, condemning the unethical stealing by Herncastle, even while implicitly asserting the superiority of genteel values over the ‘primitive’ Hindu stone gods bearing diamonds and the strange priests who guard them. In The Moonstone, male–female relations and conjugal arrangements take on the status of a mystery, symbolically represented by the diamond—signified by the need for a detective to retrieve it. Rachel must see the hypocrisy of the double standards of Ablewhite as well as the ineffectuality of Franklin and the effete male as erotic object is broached in Rosanna’s love. By contrast, the jugglers succeed. They emerge as the most victorious, for they succeed in reclaiming British loot.

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Fig. 3.4 Priests as jugglers. The Moonstone (1997)

The convergences noted above are orchestrated by one compelling generic/historical connection; that between detecting within the nation and military policing without. The Moonstone is structured as a detective film, both in its original and in the PBS remake, just as Gunga Din as a Thuggee policing film. Significantly, the connection between policing and detecting is further suggested by the popular notion that army action in the suppression of Thuggee by Sleeman, was the first trial run for detective work in England. The diamond’s role in a sexual and conjugal narrative suggests other connections. The British public would have seen, in 1799, a painting entitled “Beseiging the Haram” (Fig. 3.5). Several British officers, “Harrah my Honey now for the Black Joke” and “Cheer up my girls we’ll supply his place well”, take liberties with the women in the harem of Tipu Sultan after his death during the fighting at ´ ırangapat Sr¯ ˙ . t.an.a, India. [London]: Published by S.W. Fores, 1799 October 8th.

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Fig. 3.5 The death of Tippoo or Besieging the haram!!!

This suggests that Wilkie Collins’ account of the stealing of a gem at Seringapatam (Srirangapatnam) masks a different kind of despoiling—that of Tipu’s harem by rapacious East India Company soldiers. This incident is remembered in popular film: it is recreated in Bhagwan Gidwani’s ‘The sword of Tipu Sultan’ and its remake as a film by Sanjay Khan. The painting is insulting to the women, depicting them bare breasted in dresses, rather like corresponding depictions of Amerindian women ravenously seduced by sailors, or long unwashed Spanish sailors falling on African slave women. Alongside all these narratives of Srirangapatnam— portraits of battle, other narratives circulate: the very real fear East India company officials harbored, of Tipu as a master commander and the advantage they took of his position as a lone Muslim Sultan among Hindu neighbors, and how they played one against the other. The Gunga Din trumpet blowing scene may be compared to a scene in The Moonstone—Rachel and Betteridge looking at the moonstone (95– 116). In this section the two objects, the bugle and the stone, deploy the themes of colonial sexuality. The historical obfuscation surrounding

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Srirangapatnam, both a sacred Hindu shrine and a Muslim Emperor’s capital, reaches its apogee in the cartoon I discussed in the earlier section. According to the bawdy cartoons circulating at the time, India—even in a Muslim kingdom—is seen as a place of seduceable (as opposed to rape victims which was common) women (which of course it was not, both Hindu and Muslim cultures being extremely guarded as regards their women). In contrast the country home of The Moonstone is a place of great propriety in behavior. Historically the moonstone traveled from Somnath via Banaras to Tipu Sultan’s court. Once the diamond is stolen, several subplots intersect with each other—the opium theme, the theme of working-class solidarity, the Indians seeking to regain the diamond, upper-class profligacy, Rachel’s silence, solving the mystery. The film’s treatment is decidedly more ahistorical and cavalier about facts and details than the original text, which was somewhat remarkable for its anti-imperialist sentiment (Asish Roy). The meanings of the diamond in the various stills are marked by different emotions: violence, mystery, and resentment: in one, Herncastle prises it from the idol with a bloody knife, in another Betteredge and Rachel, examine it, in a third, the jugglers stare at it. The paradoxical symbolism of the diamond may be noted. It is a symbol of an India domesticated into a British binary between modern West and pre modern East. It is a symbol of crime and detecting. And at the same time, in Britain, the diamond could be read as a metaphor for female sexuality.

“The first English detective novel—that most narratological of forms, as Tzvetan Todorov has demonstrated—The Moonstone suggests the subgenre crystallized around a diamond” (Markovitz 605). “If diamonds structure the symbolic logic of lyric density, what happens when they emerge within the immense worlds of nineteenth-century novels? While they continue to work metaphorically (signaling female sexuality or colonial exploitation, for example), they also take on distinctly narrative and novelistic roles, helping writers to understand the basic elements of their practice” (Markovitz 605). And in a reductive metaphor, the moonstone is India itself. “As John Plotz has argued, the plot of The Moonstone is structured around the diamond– its stealing from India, its loss, the quest for it, its return.” He calls the Moonstone “a portable metonym for India itself” (Portable 40. qtd. in Markovitz 605)…“reversing Dickinson’s Brazil, its

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lyric form had expanded he diamond, while the novel’s diamond compacts it” (Markovitz 605). Or in a literary sense as being compacted by the form of the novel. Other articles speak of how Empire is ignored in The Moonstone (Free, 340–371) and indeed the Markovitz extract analyzes The Moonstone entirely within Victorian signification, completely ignoring the diamond’s Indian context. I argue that while the bugle in Gunga Din is a synonym for masculine colonial loyalty, the diamond may symbolize colonial femininity. The film certainly inspires such a view. The metaphor of the stone functions as available female sexuality. The English girl holds, in the stone, the allure of surrogate Oriental sexuality; it is demanded back by the Indians, as to assert it is a matter of shame to Hindus. Rachel keeps it ‘unlocked’ in her room, Franklin Blake ventures into her room to get it, and incurs her wrath for so doing, the diamond as also profligate sexuality is in the end traceable to Ablewhite, who is in fact accused of Oriental harem-like extravagance in the way he keeps his mistress. Thus far, the metaphor— gem to sexuality—holds quite well. The various masquerades—Ablewhite as Indian, the opium use—add to the themes of cultural cross overs. Certain images in the film reinforce my reading of such a metaphor—the bloodied statue as the gem is removed, suggestive of rape; the stealing taking place in a bedroom, the paint smear, like a virgin’s seduction, is cleaned up by the maid, the connection throughout of The Moonstone to Rachel’s ‘reputation.’ So the ideological process goes something like this, a process highlighted in the film’s treatment of the original novel. In the original novel, the archival collection forms the structure, which actually involves India much more than the film does. Melissa Free quotes Nayder: Collins structures the text as an archival document, constructs the plot as a mystery, and positions fictional and actual readers as both judges and detectives. The compilation of letters, reports, notes, newspaper clippings, journal entries, wills, and even a receipt, “placed on record in writing” (17), serves as testimony for the reader’s consideration. Franklin Blake organizes and submits the evidence to his family, while Collins, indirectly, submits it to us. The reader is asked to evaluate not just the theft of the diamond from a country estate in England but its earlier removal from a sacred Hindu shrine in India, presumably by John Herncastle, “the Honourable John” (39), “the well-known nickname of the East India Company,” whose “theft of the Moonstone comes to represent the legally

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sanctioned robbery of India by the British government.” (Nayder 120) The stakes of the theft are greater than the loss of the family’s (questionable, at best) treasure, for what is really on trial in this novel is personal and national responsibility in the violence of imperialism. (Free 341–342)

The gem in the novel, is originally colonial loot, and thereby linked to other kinds of despoiling in the mind of the British public as signified by the cartoon “Beseiging the Harem.” In the film version however, the Indian origin of the moonstone only appears in a dream and in the final sequence of events in the end, cloaked in surreal images and unreality. The rape and pillage of India is historically erased in representing the gem as domesticated metonymic both for India and for the sexuality of an English girl. The diamond’s journey among the Victorian upper class takes us through class issues, gendered stories of requited and unrequited desire, infidelity, crime, detection, and many other themes. Through the agency of the Brahmins it returns to a premodern India and its reality as stolen wealth that swelled British coffers is erased. The bugle had similarly structured Gunga Din: the bhishti’s colonial dreams are about it, joining the army as bugle blower, and in the end he blows the bugle to warn the British. The scenes where Cutter trains Gunga Din to march and blow the bugle are part of his martial training. It is also significant that in Gunga Din, men are glorified, while in The Moonstone, the men—Herncastle, Franklin, Ablewhite–are ineffectual albeit engaged in detecting and adventure, while the women—Lady Verrender and Rachel—are principled and strong. To conclude, a stolen diamond and a treasure-filled temple point to the central reality of, yet defensive self-justification for, British presence in India. They camouflage the truth: colonial loot. In both Gunga Din and The Moonstone, the treasure narrative is twinned with the bandit narrative, the parody of the popular English romance of the outlaw or the highwayman. I have looked in this chapter at the simultaneous association of the Hollywood ‘Eastern.’ in the sense I have delimited my subject in the opening chapters, with treasure, strange religions and crime as well as policing/detective work. In each film, I look at cinematic effects that problematize the theft of wealth in the form of treasure, carried out by British armies in India, by displacing that theft on to the ‘rogue’ Indian priests, thugs, and others. Thuggee, though undoubtedly a sinister and criminal practice, is reintroduced into Gunga Din a century after it was

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quelled, with the express aim of deflecting the charge of colonial thievery onto the Indian thugs. Some readings have argued that the novel elevates the “brahmin sublime” over the safe values of the gentry, thereby glorifying upper caste Hindu India (Krishna Manavalli 67–86). The film on the contrary is a lot more cavalier with any kind of historical accuracy about India, as this reading has argued. In Masterpiece Theater’s remake of The Moonstone, though colonial plunder is acknowledged and is the original action initiating the film, the ethical center remains the English aristocratic home and its loyal servants, personified in Mrs Verrender and her butler and sinister crime is displaced on to the three priests who come to retrieve the stolen gem (Manavalli 67–86).

CHAPTER 4

The Eastern Desert and the Lone Hero

This chapter discusses two films, one from the sixties and the other from the nineties, based on texts written a century apart (loosely T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom [1922; first published, 1926] and Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient respectively). Seven Pillars of Wisdom was an autobiography (completed 1922; first published 1926) by T.E. Lawrence. A film adaption (1962) was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. Horizon Pictures. The English Patient (1992) by Michael Ondaatje film adaption (1996) directed by Anthony Minghella, produced by Saul Zaentz. Tiger Moth Productions. Both films feature a similar character. He is the initially disinterested, hard-bitten hero, familiar as we shall see, in the Orientalist exotic travel tale/film, transformed/disappointed by love, one for a people, another for a woman. Both feature the desert as a theater, similar to the Wild West for the lone adventure hero. In one the figure is located in the military, in the other, autonomous of, unprotected by and later the victim of, the military. The desert as backdrop is both a romantic and geopolitical space of European power. The analysis will weave around the following postulates, all of which further complicate the multifaceted idea of romance this book has been exploring as a side interest. First, both films build on some viewer expectations. The political/colonial/adventure/Western (which has already appeared in Gunga Din and will appear in later films) where the East becomes the theater for white man’s heroism is one. The genre of the © The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_4

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Desert Romance film of which early Hollywood films like The Sheik (1921; novel by Edith Maude Hull, 1919) (or The Thief of Baghdad [1940] are examples is another). Second, it invokes the romance of the Gothic hero where the hero’s hard-bitten cynical exterior renders him romantically attractive to the other sex but may disguise his part in a colonialist narrative. Incidentally, his hybrid English/European/Arab identity makes him inscrutable but also participates in the nineties, namely Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The English Patient (1996). colonialist/racist invisibility of the real Arab whose persona he appropriates. This Gothic subjectivity is only accorded the European male. Third, the romance of the desert, where the hero takes over rightful stewardship/romantic intimacy with the desert, more than its rightful inhabitants, who live, suffer and die there all the time. Next, the romance of international professional camaraderie. This is more international in Patient than in Lawrence, where it remains pan-Arab. In Patient, the team of a global professional camaraderie, interrupted by war, is visionary and romantic but excludes the Arabs. This is typified both in the approach to landscape and to people. It is dangerous, albeit romantic, because it lulls the viewer into a fantasy of a unified world. Finally, the romance of amorous forbidden relationships: their setting up; their remembering; this romantic seme sets off the European as a desiring subject, with heterosexual passion being a quasi-Freudian marker of his ‘adulthood.’ Consequently, the landscape doesn’t belong to the inhabitants, or they live in it but don’t know how to guard it. Their blood feuds take precedence over issues of Arab resurgence. It takes a European to protect it. In the international professional and personal romance, the natives are not desiring subjects: Europeans alone understand the transcendent subjectivity offers by adult camaraderie and heterosexual passion. The romance I argue, depends on giving subjective, adult centrality to the European, while othering the ‘natives.’ Orientalism is an important motif in the so-called desert romance. It includes the shifting meanings of Englishness and Arabness and its intersection with geopolitics at particular moments when the respective films appeared; gender norms and imperial mythmaking and psychopathology; the changing use of the desert as a backdrop as well as the interplay of fantasy and reality in the films with respect to the moving picture as a genre and its connection to people’s fantasy lives.

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The films may be read in the dialectic between the rugged Western and the desert romance. Both characters, T.E. Lawrence and Laszlo Almasy, historical figures, were drawn to the desert. Finding one’s way in the wilderness was the first and primary leitmotif of the Western. Deserts with their searing heat and interminable distances are a powerful prototype of the wilderness. Films like The Stagecoach, where a group of travellers traverse Apache territory, The Searchers, where Ethan Hawke travels through the desert to find a niece captured by the Comanche, and many others are examples. As a rogue army officer, Lawrence is the counterpart of the cowboys in the Western. Like them, he takes on the mantle of negotiating the desert’s wildness, even though, like the frontier in the Western, there are others living there with much more experience and skill in surviving in this land. Almasy, on the other hand, is only partly granted that role. Almasy is not a rugged soldier but an archeologist and mapmaker, who explores terra incognita, the Gilf Kebir in the Sahara (shot in Tunisia). He both uses native informants to glean knowledge that will grant him expertise, yet intimately knows Arabic and the details of the vocabulary of the desert. Flying in a fragile two-seater plane, he seems a lot more of a victim of the desert than Lawrence. Arthurs and Grant offer an interesting discussion of the desert. There are many echoes of the Western. Harsh geographies like the ravines, or tribal warfare among Amerindian groups often portrayed as irrational blood feuds versus the righteous battles fought by white settlers, territorial disputes, and just the sheer toughness of frontier life (see Chapter 1) are echoed in Lawrence. The film shows desert and warring tribes among the Bedouin, as well as the war with the Turks. There are blood feuds, revenge and honor killings, dispute over wells, disasters and storms and frightful natural obstacles, mixed with modern war, as well as the blowing up of trains and modern torture. The challenge of the desert (romantic in the sense of testing man’s endurance and heroic potential) is a part of political/colonial adventure film. This has already appeared in Gunga Din and will appear in later films and supplies part of the viewer expectation. Here the East becomes the theater for white man’s heroism. The character’s adaptation to the desert is seen in his knowledge of the language, his navigating of sandstorms, his travel over dreaded areas. The films capture the romance of the old traveler’s tale although the desert is also an occupation for Almasy until he falls in love. Ondaatje’s novel, unlike Lawrence’s, features a love interest and that changes

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things. Equally both films ignite the viewers’ memory of a popular genre. Both films build on some viewer expectations: the genre of the Desert Romance film of which The Sheik (1921) or The Thief of Baghdad (1940) are examples. However sophisticated Lawrence and Patient appear to be, the substratum of generic expectation must be taken into account. While these desert romances written for women seem far removed from a classic biopic like Lawrence of Arabia, in fact it helps me introduce the idea that the exotic land was a theater for European gendered fantasies. Even though as I later point out, there are no women in Lawrence, the desert romances set up an eroticization of the European characters’ connection to the place. The Desert Romance was a generic love story, and originated in Harlequin type romances written for women, with Elizabeth Hull’s The Sheik (1919) being the prototype. An upper-class English woman is abducted by an Arab Sheikh, who turns out in the end to be an Englishman raised by Arabs. Romance here is specifically an erotic fantasy, not just a longing for the unreal or the challenge of the difficult. The desert is not a hurdle but represents the ultimate escapist space for lovers. It is empty, stark, unvarying and quiet. The men dress in long flowing robes: apparently this image was a favored escapist image for women (Gargano). In the novel The Sheik the beauty and erotic power of men in touch with ‘wild’ nature, is suggested by descriptions like: [S]he had never seen so large a body of mounted men before, nor had she seen them as they were here, one with the wild picturesqueness of their [desert] surroundings … the wind filling their white cloaks, making each man look gigantic. Diana’s interest flamed up excitedly…An atmosphere of life and purpose seemed to have taken the place of the quiet stagnation that had been before their coming…. Diana, intent on the quickly advancing horsemen, spurred ahead of her guide with sparkling eyes. They were near enough now to see that the horses were beautiful creatures and that each man rode magnificently. (Gargano quoting Hull 45)

In introducing The Sheik into motion pictures, Arabia was chosen by Hollywood as the setting for one of its first sex symbols, Rudolph Valentino. A tomboyish aristocratic Englishwoman is abducted by a rich Arab to add to his harem. There are scenes of deserts and camels indicating possibilities of premodern fantasies. 1919 was also the year that

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T.E. Lawrence’s exploits became common knowledge: life stories of an Englishman cross dressed as an Arab, circulated widely in the grand tradition of Richard Burton. Much of the charisma of both Lawrence and Burton derived from their ability to disguise themselves as supposedly “exotic” Arabs, and yet somehow retain a saving essence of “Englishness.” In both cases, putting on the clothes, the disguise, of the Arab, means also incorporating some of his alleged “wildness,” his “primitive” potency and power. Ironically, while Burton and Lawrence sought in Arab culture a chance to express suppressed homoerotic impulses, their “Arab” disguise transformed them into icons of heterosexual masculinity for women like Isabel Burton and E. M. Hull. (Gargano 174)

Romance in The Sheikh is based, like Lawrence and Patient, on the desert as a charged space, in the sense of a setting where man and nature are in pristine states, allowing for adventures, bravery, and the possible breaking down of barriers. But the real Arabia is both remote and stereotyped. The scenes are clearly movie sets, and the liner notes guide us about the story. Despite the surface romanticization, every other scene’s captions mention barbarity, savagery, misogyny. Similarly, another Desert Romance, The Thief of Baghdad is an extravagant film, remarkable for its time. The original The Thief of Bagdad (1924) was directed by Raoul Walsh and produced by Douglas Fairbanks. A remake The Thief of Baghdad (1940) was produced by Alexander Korda and directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan; uncredited: Alexander Korda, Zoltan Korda, William Cameron Menzies. London Films. Once again, this was a UK-Hollywood collaboration. Although produced outside Hollywood by Alexander Korda in London during World War II, the film was completed in California. Distributed by United Artists, it shares elements with the other Hollywood ‘Easterns.’ Clearly separated from the Arabs they are viewing, audiences are incited to be voyeurs. The voyeurism involves three levels of remove from real Arabs. In the Thief of Baghdad, European actors, clearly made up to look Arab, but unmistakably Caucasian, play Arab roles. The contemporary term for this is ‘whitewashing.’ In other words, the alienness of the Arab for the Euro-American viewer, is whitewashed so they appear a tanned version of Europeans. At the same time, as in Gunga Din, the brown or

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black colour unnaturally lathered on, makes the characters look like what was known pejoratively as ‘blackface.’ ‘Blackface’ makes a joke of dark skin. It would be tantamount to European characters rubbed over with chalk (which has been done in Zee TV’s episodic Jhansi Ki Rani where the East India company officers are made up to look like ghostly/chalky miscreants). Discussing Desert Romances, Jarmakani quotes Trish Morey (2010), author of Stolen by the Sheikh and The Sheikh’s Convenient Virgin (2008). I just love the escapism and sheer fantasy of the sheikh story. I think EM Hull got it so right when she penned her famous ‘The Sheik’ about a century ago. Being whisked away by the king of the desert is a theme that resonates with women all over. (Morey, quoted by Jarmakani, 905)

Jarmakani continues, quoting Morey on the “escapism and sheer fantasy…that is key to the popular narrative of the sheikh-hero and to romance novels in general” (905). Further she draws on popular blog comments by women: Morey’s claims about the “sheer fantasy” of the sheikh-hero, desert romances almost always animate orientalist representations of Arab masculinity as aggressive and powerful—the sheikh is a “fierce desert man,” as E. M. Hull put it.While the novels themselves frequently make reference to Arabian Nights, readers commenting in “Sheikh blog forums” name “berobed desert sheiks” as well as “hot desert winds, cool fountains, slight and slithery silk garments, unusually juicy fruit, [and an] attar of roses” as the exotic draw of the sheikh, In other words, one commenter reminded other readers, imagined distance between the reader and her setting enabled this set of fantasies: “Back then [in the 1970s] Arabia was just some mystical place ‘out there’ where men were dominant and women submissive and the clothes looked nice.” (Jarmakani 906, notes 47, 48, 49; Hull, 2004, 133)

The film Thief of Baghdad is also purely fantasy, featuring genies, and magic carpets, but is yet supposed to convey a real sense of the land’s intrigue, misogyny, “medieval” customs and so on. “Arabia” is merely a fabrication, so much so that real Arabs are only seen in the less important roles and in the one character ‘Sabu.’ More obviously than in The Thief of Baghdad, in The Sheikh a dialogue between East and West on gendering norms is folded unto the film. Tomboyish Lady Mayo (prefiguring the

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sporty Englishwoman Katherine in The English Patient ) trounces all her European suitors but is “savagely” abducted by the Sheikh, played by Rudolf Valentino. But it turns out the sheikh is English but raised “native.” This tactic, of being really English but behaving and appearing Arab, allows myriad permutations with gendered behavior. For instance, it allows the strong independent Englishwoman to be mastered but not really unsafe, as her captor is “really” English. Such a plot secretly satisfies the fantasies of viewers: women yearning for the primitive male with harems and mastery over women, at least in their fantasy life. Equally, their own independence gives them a sense of superiority over the harem women. There is no obvious whitewashing, as Valentino is Italian and therefore closer phenotypically to the Arab. The erotic lover the English Sheikh is the counterpart of the American Indian in the Western, abducting the woman and often converting her to his lifestyle. While in the Western, the characters playing Native Americans were actually Native Americans, a late Western like Dances with Wolves shows a similar crossover. The comparison of Lawrence to these books and films is latent rather than manifest. Lawrence at first sight, is infused with the ruggedness associated with the Western rather than the desert Romance. Notably there are no individualized women in Lawrence except the crowds of ululating women accompanying Arab fighters. But the desert Romance motif is latent. It is the romance of an Englishman’s acceptance into the Arab world and signified by many friendships which develop between the crusty Lawrence and the initially unfriendly Arabs. Several critics have discussed the complex interplay of the racial masquerade of white men as Arab, the erotic/barbaric appeal of the Arab, as he is constructed as ‘other.’ The Englishman disguised as Arab, (historically exemplified in Burton and Lawrence), seems the best way to combine the “masculine” Arab, surrounded by the wild desert, and his “saving grace” of actual Englishness, which allows the heroine to eventually marry him. In Lawrence, then, the romance lies in the same elements as the Thief of Baghdad or The Sheikh. It offers the escape from ‘civilization’ for viewers into a strange land of palaces and oases with lush palm trees set in desert land. The desert is empty, quiet, harsh, and manly in a primal way. There is also the romance of intercultural contact through viewing, or through depiction in the film (Fig. 4.1). The identification is only in dress, in his donning of Arab costume. Yet Lawrence’s cross-dressing is somewhat different from the case of the

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Fig. 4.1 Lawrence the Arab. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Thief of Baghdad, or The Sheikh. It is a variation of those cases; while they acted as Arabs, here Lawrence is an English actor playing an Englishman but dressed as an Arab. He begins in English garb, then switches to Arab. Though he is known to be English, his Arab friends react to him in a double-edged way. He hides his identity but is found out by the Turkish leader. The identification by the audience is deeper than the Thief of Baghdad. But Lawrence is denied any heterosexual eroticism within the film, although his female viewers would certainly eroticize him as an Arab. Though Lawrence of Arabia differs from the Sheik genre in that there are no women, gender politics are latent. Lawrence’s love affair is really with the desert and with its inhabitants, who he seeks to master in much the same way that the Sheikh seeks to master the woman. While in The Sheikh, we do not know until the end that the Arab is really an Englishman, Lawrence of Arabia alternately places Lawrence both in the urban or colonial world and the desert world of the sheiks and has him cross dress as an Arab for most of the film. It is a different kind of desert romance. Comparing the erotically romantic charge of The Sheik, with the developing camaraderie with Arabs (along with disdain at the savage’s ways) in Lawrence, suggests the homoeroticism in the white man’s relation to the ‘other.’ This has been famously argued by many critics.

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Closer reading of scenes may illustrate the ideological operations I have just discussed. Both films begin with the portrayal of the accident/death of the main character. In Lawrence, who died in England the deserts of Arabia seem far removed from this scene, while Almasy, though he crashes in the desert in the opening scene, dies in Italy after World War II ends. The first few scenes of the movie present a daredevil Lawrence, who drives to his death on a motorcycle. The image is a technological scenario, complete with motorbike, goggles and bicycling children. Lawrence is on a motorcycle riding fast, recklessly. Here is an adventure hero, terribly misplaced in the modern mechanistic world of motorcycles, goggles, and bicycles. In Lawrence, the goggles, the motorcycle, and the accident indicate a certain daredevil imagery associated with the period. The camera follows the rider, using the technique perhaps first introduced in the earliest talkies: that of illusion (the apocryphal story of the train appearing to be coming at the viewer). The effect is to connect us emotionally with the character and enter into the excitement of his life. In Lawrence however, the moment is a modern one, the mode of transport, a motorcycle, not the medieval mode of the camel, which is the image most associated with the film, the mode of transport through the desert. Lawrence as modern precedes Lawrence as camel rider suddenly thrust into a medieval world, Lawrence a bureaucratic underling is suddenly free in the desert. Here Lawrence is similar to Lady Mayo in The Sheik: he is the one who needs to escape convention and delve into his romantic longings. Like her he ventures into the desert, with his guide.

The Desert The dramatic change in Lawrence, from the cheeky and cynical young officer to the affable companion to his Bedu guide, suggests an immediate affective softening. The gentle movement of the camels in the spectacular golden desert contrasts with the harsh roar of the motorbike and is sensuous. The flowing robes recall the allure of The Sheik. The next few scenes take us to the beginning of Lawrence’s life in the desert. The frame may be read in certain elements common to romance: entry into romantic land, the hero’s confrontation of the power brokers, the taking on of a challenge, the establishment of ability and a superior humanity, the slight regression toward the lower state of those around, the end. The romance narrative in this sense is structured by the hero’s cultural superiority.

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. The desert entry scene is romantic in the sense of offering an escape. It begins harmoniously when Lawrence is assimilating into Tafa’s culture, and their friendship develops. The music played when the journey begins, rises to a crescendo, wistful and atmospheric, associating the viewer in the journey with Lawrence. When they enter the desert, the music is serene and full of wonder: it intrigues the viewer and later builds up to a more epic resonance. After a while the music transitions into a more upbeat tune while the guide teaches Lawrence how to ride the camel properly and turns comical when Lawrence falls from riding too fast. The upperclass Lawrence shares Bedu food with his guide and eats with his fingers. When they stop at the well the music ceases, adding tension and drama toward the sudden new appearance, Ali. When they help themselves at the well, Sharif Ali who appears to be a menacing figure approaches the two men, as a distant rider. This is followed by the sound of the camel’s footsteps approaching and gun shots. Ali arrives to the tune of dramatic music provoking suspense. The shoot out by Sharif Ali ending in the guide’s death ends this sequence of scenes. Discussion on these scenes in Lawrence of Arabia centers on the Orientalism in the text—on the contrast between Lawrence as rational versus the tribal, feuding Arabs; on the portrayal of the Arabs as the other that consolidates the self; on Arabia existing just as a construct. But as viewers we are transported to a world of silence, sand and camels, a step into the past as it were. The first element, initiation to the desert, climaxing in the scene of the shoot out by the well, has begun with Lawrence unsure of himself, yet liberated from the strictures of his former life. From romances like those of Alexandre Dumas to Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur, to epical romances like the Ramayana, the separation of the protagonist from his quotidian background initiates the possibility of a romantic redemption. Lawrence is introduced to the Bedu, who know the desert, eats the food offered him by the guide, and is about to drink water from the well. At this point, in a vivid cinematic composition, a speck of dust on the horizon turns into Sherif Ali of a rival Bedouin tribe. The scene of an unknown horseman riding toward the hero is the very stuff of Arthurian romance. Lawrence has just handed his guide a gun. Sherif Ali shoots the guide just as his own gun is thrown at his feet. Lawrence rebukes the Arabs or their feudal rivalries, while Sherif Ali declares his right to safeguard his well. The Bedu are represented as a group untainted by the wiles of civilization, acting directly and openly. This naivety is to appear time and

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again in the ‘Eastern.’ The well as a primordial source of water has biblical overtones. The well itself was a property held in common by many groups claiming a common male ancestor, responsible for digging the well. The well thus indicated patriarchal strength and power. Vegetation surrounding it would be a gift from Allah and used by all. But access to water was controlled by the Bedouin. Wells were commonly the property of lineages of 9 or smaller groups descended from a common male ancestor usually held to have dug or cleaned out or otherwise improved the well. Natural vegetation on the range depends on the rain and is thus a gift of Allah and, like fire and air and water (if not developed), is available to all users. However, access to the range depends on access to water, and it is thus through the control of water wells they developed, or claimed to have developed, that Bedouin typically controlled indirectly the territories (dirat) that carried their tribal or clan names in addition to local place name. (Cole 239)

In this encounter, the Arabs are shown as petty and tribal, murdering at the least provocation, while Lawrence is the rational Englishman. Alexander Lyon Macfie has argued that the film shows a conflicted Lawrence and indeed, this scene only demonstrates Lawrence’s helplessness in the face of a well centered culture. But Peter O’Toole’s expression of disdain, and his peevish body language suggests a sixties gendering, exaggeratedly mimicking the stereotypical representations of the female behavior of fussiness. There is undoubtedly a desert frontier here, a mirror image of the Western. But it operates differently. While there the Native American threat is clearly inimical, here Lawrence collaborates with the Arabs but along a slowly yielding desert frontier, yielding as he makes alliances, convinces leaders, braves the desert in a rescue effort, and crossed the Nefud, an area feared by the Bedouin. The viewing of the film as an echo of the rugged Western, as opposed to the Desert Romance, also turns on the debate between Lawrence as flawed or perfect. The Orientalist hero, Lawrence, would be a variant of the hero of a romance. The film does not show Lawrence as flawed. He is a romantic loner, abandoned by his father (as he confesses to Ali), the exception being the terrible massacre of the Turks, especially women and children. This is an echo of the amoral world of the Western, absolved of

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moral judgment when annihilation of the ‘other,’ the native inhabitants, is involved. The representation of Arabia as an orientalist fantasy is thus buttressed by the Western filmgoer’s popular perception of Lawrence the historical figure as a savior of Arabs. Critics have taken issue with the heroic portrayal of Lawrence. Weston Burnett’s review of Steven C. Canton’s Lawrence of Arabia: A Film’s Anthropology (1999) opens up like so: (t)his book is a dialectical criticism of the film Lawrence of Arabia (1962) based on the assumption that this blockbuster epic, although something of a box-office bust, left a lasting impression on a generation. It is a combination to our understanding of the myth Lawrence of Arabia rather than the life of T.E. Lawrence. (1)

Canton’s introduction is an extended statement on critical theory arguing against one sided readings of such complex films in favor of a dialectical approach which oscillates between different levels of meaning. Canton argues that as it stands, all elements of the representation (such as the Orientalist fantasy I discussed above) are geared to the western reader. “The environment, the desert, was developed as a character, the wilderness, but a wilderness the audience expects, pristine and, ironically, subservient to the media seeking its realistic portrayal” (85). “Subservient” and “portrayal” refer to the expectations Westerners had of the Middle East and North Africa. In other words, Lawrence and Almasy in The English Patient treat the desert as a repository for their political and cultural superiority as Europeans, relying on a seeming glorification and exotification of the Orient even as they do so. A different post-modern approach sees the plane’s crash as a dissolution of the self and Almasy as unmoored in the desert (Beezer 129–143). As I am placing my scene-byscene exposition as a means to track the mindset of an average Hollywood viewer, I see their position as more colonially inflected. But romance softens the blow: i.e., the longings that draw Lawrence to the desert distract the viewer from some of the real issues at stake in the film. Romance is the soul’s longing for connections that are usually frustrated by reality and practicality, be these connections love between the sexes, love for a vocation that one sees as freeing one’s spirit, love for a land that touches parts of one that are submerged in one’s quotidian background, or love for a people whose company brings forth the hidden aspects of one’s spirit. The film medium, and particularly David Lean’s

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films with their haunting background music, are particularly suited to evoking a romantic subtext. Lawrence’s love for his role in the desert, and Almasy’s love for the ruins he seeks in the desert are both, in this sense, romantic. The next marker of the Western dovetailing into this new kind of romance which feminizes or eroticizes the desert and its inhabitants, occurs when Lawrence reaches the chief’s tent. In the classic Western, the lone cowboy ultimately fights to secure the land for his people. Occasionally, he ventures into Indian territory to discuss peace or barter. Until now, Lawrence has been acting for the British, taking their message to the Chief. But the romantic hero is impelled by personal motivations and asserting his more chivalrous position vis-a-vis the mire effect others. While the hero of the Western wishes to prove his fearlessness, like Ethan in The Searchers, the romantic hero is more idealistic. Lawrence, the hero of romance, has been acquainted with, but not yet acquired an ally. Though still not quite accepted and having to defer to the ally’s knowledge of the terrain, he finds himself in the tent of Prince Feisal, played by Alec Guinness. The camera spends several shots on the grandeur of the tent, a glimpse of the oriental exotic. In the political reading of Lawrence as an Orientalist text the European and the Arab are depicted in a binary. One is rational, the other tribal, with the land itself being slowly commanded by the European (this is the thrust of much criticism). Prince Feisal’s tent would stand for the Orientals’ supposedly feminine love of ease, in a room adorned by carpets and sprinkled with hookahs, singularly unsuited for war. But the seductive romantic subtext operates to disarming effect, leaving us ready to hand over the desert to the European. We see Lawrence the hero walks into the proverbial den of lions, like countless other romantic or indeed Western, heroes and show his mettle in the company of seasoned soldiers, like Daniel Boone amidst the American generals. The Arabs are described as ‘little’ people. Here the Western’s legacy collides with the Eastern orientalist. This romantic element is contained within the form of the Western. Just like in Westerns, the tent has a military atmosphere and the debate is about strategy. The director offers equal space to both the British generals and to Ali, with the Omar Sharif character playing the hotheaded young voice. The debate is about whether the Arabs should take Turk held Acaba in a frontal assault and whether the British should offer them training or guns. The English generals say the latter, the Arabs want the former. It is

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the choice between technology and management, the latter relinquishing human superiority in organization, conduct of warfare and so on, to the European, the former acknowledging that it is just a matter of weaponry, which any human agent can command. In the well scene guns were used in tribal, subjective, irrational ways, ways that as Lawrence sanctimoniously declares, makes the Arabs ‘a little people.’ The generic romance has a moment when the knight in shining armour, be it Lancelot or Arthur, proves his mettle in the company of his superiors. This is supposed to glorify individual heroism and a kind of divine grace or ordained power that inheres in one human over all others. The viewing public or the readers of romances are empowered by the existence of this figure who is then available for hero worship. In the oasis/tent scene, Lawrence makes the bold claim that he can help the Arabs take Acaba. The scheme is intrepid, but it will win him the friendship of Sherif Ali, played by Omar Sharif, another important element in romance, where the reluctant enemy turns into an ally. In the covert political message of the ‘Eastern’, that I am claiming romance sugar coats, this figure is the colonial whose land is about to be appropriated by the European who goes native only to take on the mantle of the desert hero who teaches the Arabs how to fight. This first intrepid step brings us to the next sequence of scenes as they move through the deadly Nefud desert. The cameras sweeping scope of miles and deserts, spectacular sunsets and sylvan oases, add to the sense of the romance of the Arabia of One Thousand and One Nights (1704). But unlike Hollywood’s early Desert Romances, this is real sand, real desert. Minghella has spoken, see below, of how the desert sands needed to be swept between scenes to create the immaculate effect (Sadashigue quoting Minghella, 1996, 1). My discussion began with the desert as a successor to the ravines of the Western, but now it is a trope in a new kind of desert Romance. Throughout Lawrence is shown as having a romance with the desert. WS Foster, quoted by critics of travel, who traveled to Africa with a camera says that this romance consists in the ‘unreasoned conviction’ that some parts of the world are more magical than others. He says: Had anyone asked me what I meant by magic, I should probably have defined the word by calling it a secret connection between the world of nature and the consciousness of man, a hidden but direct passage which bypassed the mind…Like any Romantic, I had always been vaguely certain

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that sometime during my life I should come into a magic place which in disclosing its secrets would give me wisdom and ecstasy-perhaps even death. (Kaplan 66)

Both Lawrence and Almasy approach the desert in mystic ways. The East in both these films is signified primarily by the desert, only secondarily by the Arab characters in it. Both films show long, loving shots of the desert and the desert appears to have been both Lean’s and Minghella’s cosmetic as well as cinematic interest (Anne Coates and Jacqui Sadashigue). Sadashigue describes hearing an interview with Minghella where he ‘related how it had been necessary to sweep the desert sands each time a scene required shooting or reshooting…. the terrain must be cleared, and surfaces need retouching in order to create those unmarked and untouched dunes that call to mind, ‘desert’, ‘Sahara’ or ‘Africa.’ (Sadashige, ‘Geographies of Desire in The English Patient ’, 1). In The English Patient the desert is overtly likened to women. In Lawrence, the link is a little less obvious. A critic speaks of the only woman in Lawrence to be the desert, speaks of the ‘taking from behind’ of towns like Acaba, to be sexual in nature, of the ‘rape’ of a city by the Turks and so on. The Lawrence film builds, even if only secondarily, on the Arab, as a type, a figure, but the mastery he has is only over the desert. The desert it has been argued, is primordial, stands for emptiness, anarchy, Chaos. At the same time the desert is a magical place, a ‘sacred connection between the world of nature and the consciousness of man’: as a romantic, the idea that being in a magic place ‘would give wisdom, ecstasy and death….’ Both Almasy and Lawrence look for a spiritual connection to the desert. nature in the raw which could give one a heightened sense of being alive. In summary, I reiterate my use of the term Romance to emphasize its shifting meanings. Arabia as a romantic escape and; Arabia as mystical; Lawrence as a romantic hero; the desert as Lawrence’s romantic space; the romance of the desert Arab (as a type removed from reality). The desert space is primordial, in scenes like Lawrence riding through the Nefud desert where Sharif teaches him survival strategies. Similarly, in The English Patient , Almasy’s walking for 3 days as his lady love lies dying in a cave. The desert as unforgiving claiming victims. In these scenes, the desert is seen as environmentally negative, the searing dry heat symbolic of desertification. The cave of swimmers, or the oases, are promises of

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water in the dryness. Yet its quiet, its emptiness, its simple beauty draws these men. Caren Kaplan (1996, 66) argues that “mystified versions of the romance of the desert remain with us in postmodernity, often in the supposed service of a ‘postcolonial’ critical practice. The desire to become like or merge with the periphery or margin that one’s own power has established, demonstrates the pitfalls of theoretical ‘tourism’…“Those who read the desert as a blank slate for imaginative experimentation and liberation from the status quo can slide dangerously close to, and sometimes merge with, the agents of mastery and exploitation. Indeed, as we have already seen, the very idea that the desert offers such freedom is embedded in the notions of emptiness that serve to legitimize colonization and exploitation in the first place”.

As Kaplan (ibid.) acutely observes: Mapping “terra incognita” requires the open spaces and depopulated zones constructed by colonial discourse…. the blinding white spaces of the desert present another opportunity for Euro-American inventions of the Self…. the philosophical/literary trek across the desert leads to a celebration of the figure of the nomad—the one who can track a path through a seemingly illogical space without succumbing to nation-state and/or bourgeois organization and mastery. The desert symbolizes the site of critical and individual emancipation in Euro-American modernity; the nomad represents a subject position that offers an idealized model of movement based on perpetual displacement…. Euro-American recourse to the metaphors of desert and nomad can never be innocent or separable from the dominant orientalist tropes in circulation throughout modernity.

Kaplan’s formulation sees the figure of the nomad as a place for reinvention of the self. But the attractiveness of the nomadic Lawrence straddles two registers. Both modernist, a symbol for the aloneness of civilized man in his contrast to, yet definition by, the primitive, and Romantic in the senses I have just discussed. The scenes in the desert highlight man against the backdrop of nature in its desert avatar, both here and in The English Patient , in such a way that man rises to heights of heroism. In the trek through the Nefud desert, whose torrid intensity is well captured in film, once Lawrence acquires two followers, boys who worship him, this too is a convention in Romantic masculinity, Planchet to D’Artagnan, Lancelot and Belvedere to Arthur.

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In the hybrid traditions of the Desert Romance, Lawrence is both English and Arabized. He pleases Ali by saving the soldier trapped in the Nefud; and behaves like Ali when he executes the same man, later acknowledging that he liked doing it. He orders cruel attacks. So, one could argue that in this battle between Englishness and Arabness, the dynamic is somewhat different from that in The Sheikh. While the Sheikh becomes more English, drawing into his “decent” side while relinquishing his “barbaric” traits, Lawrence acquires certain qualities the film codes as Arab. His common humanity as an Englishman gains him friends; his loyalty is more of an Arab trait; and his desire for vengeance Arabic too. The cracks in his unified Englishness are betrayed in the scene with Sherif Ali where he confesses his illegitimacy, his status as a “rogue” Englishman, the image with which the movie begun. If Lady Mayo in The Sheikh relinquishes her tomboy traits for the femininity her culture demands, by choosing a bold path and yet becoming that of a woman mastered along Arab lines, here too Lawrence acts out his rebellion which at first push him into stiff upper lip, self-appointed ‘decent’ Englishness; and later into more emotional, vengeful, sadistic Arabness. In the intervening decades between Lawrence of Arabia and The English Patient new trends emerge. The decades and debacle of the Vietnam war, the rise of the academic postcolonial perspective, and the phenomenon of the diasporic director and author, typified in Michael Ondaatje and Anthony Minghella. Almasy is less clearly located than Lawrence was as a European with colonial power. Thus, the ‘Eastern’ as a mirror image of the Western is less useful as an analytic, by the time we get to The English Patient . Various other varieties of Westerns have been shown to audiences by then.

Anti-Empire Film in Intervening Decades A recurrent question throughout has been the obstacle to the rise of the anti-Empire film in Hollywood. Although Brian Taves argued that the pro Empire film as a subset of the “adventure” film in the 40s and 50s gave way to changes later, I argue throughout the book that while Empire as such might recede, the attitudes I call undergird the “Eastern” persist, 172. How do contemporary American histories, which inflect viewer responses, cause putative anti-imperial messages to be silenced, leaving yet another colonialist text? I am less interested in declaring that the films are Orientalist, than in seeing the complex process both of producing and of

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viewing by which they might become so. At the same time, how does the richness of the film medium, of the filmmaking processes of shooting on location, cameratic detail, techniques of editing, splicing, jumping shots, selection from huge amounts of film footage, affect our response? In these days of DVD, the ability to go back and replay shots conditions one’s response. These essays offer close viewing by a lay reader, to raise some questions.

The English Patient Some of the questions discussed in the last section: Orientalism, Romance, and the ruggedness of the Western written into the genre of the ‘Eastern,’ reappear with the question of how filmic representations alter a historical figure. Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous sums up the lacuna in the studies of Almasy the desert explorer: Although both Ondaatje and Minghella clearly represent the Orientalism of The English Patient’s mysterious main character, the fictional (literary and cinematic) Patient’s appreciation of Arab and Muslim culture has received little attention in the decade following the publication of the novel. (164)

The essay then goes on to compare the three sources on the historical Almasy, i.e., through the author’s researches into “European exploration in the Libyan Desert” that Ondaatje himself acknowledged (177); Berman, Hassanein Bey and Ralph Beig (163). He claims that the real Almasy was more respectful of Arabs than the fictional or filmic character. This claim needs to be examined with a closer viewing of the film, which I propose to do in the next few pages by closely reading/viewing certain scenes. The opening scenes set the stage for the themes of the ‘Eastern.’ I discuss the notion of Romance in The English Patient on three levels. The three levels weave in and out, each braided in with the other. By now, the Western as such is receding and with it many overtly racist attitudes, though the “native” is still just a backdrop. There is one man’s romance with the desert. There is the romance, though raw and often hurtful, of heterosexual and homosexual couple love, along with attendant themes of betrayal. Finally, there is the romance of international camaraderie in the cause of archeology.

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The beginning of The English Patient is in an ‘Eastern’ in media res. It starts with a voice over of hieroglyphs, fading into a scene of the desert, this time in North Africa, with a plane being shot down. Once again, as in Lawrence, an image of a machine is juxtaposed with the desert. The film begins with a recognizable non-European voice (the viewer wonders, is it Arabic or Hungarian, and realizes later in the film, that it is the voice of Almasy’s djoike). Even if not the latter, its similarity to the tune he later identifies as that of his childhood nurse, suggests a maternal image. The painstaking drawing of a figure swimming, ending with the head, in this womb-like cave, also suggests childbirth. This painted swimmer is superimposed on the desert, billowing gently and peacefully across the screen, until it is interrupted by a violent, noisy, male European image, the plane. It carries in it a helmeted, googled, Lindberg-like figure, and a woman whose brown hair and scarf also blow in the wind. The plane is shot down by Germans who recognize it as English, ironically so, since it is, they who helped the pilot, Almasy, return to the cave in return for his desert maps. The scene ends and shifts to the train. It returns to Almasy as a seriously burned figure who the Bedouin carry across the desert. Picking up several objects from Almasy’s past: a thimble filled with saffron, a copy of Herodotus and various travel notes, a traveling Bedouin medicine man, armed with bottles of various sizes, applies balm to Almasy’s face, presumably with some success as in the next scene Almasy is restored enough to converse with the British army under whose protection the Bedouin leave him. This significant encounter with the Bedouin who heal his surface burns with traditional medicine is presented fleetingly if intriguingly. Like Lawrence in the first scene, Almasy is shown wounded. Almasy’s wounds, however, have come from the army, whereas Lawrence has died at home. Almasy’s role in the military presence of Europe in North Africa is the counterpart to the journey of Lawrence at his military commander’s behest, to the Arab interior. Both are the Eastern’ counterpart of the Western’s territorial plans. In the classic Western, although the protagonist is singled out for his interactions both with the terrain, and the ‘natives,’ eventually he acts on behalf of “white” territorial expansion. Where he forms alliances with the indigenous people, they end up aiding this expansion. Women particularly, often switch sides, the most well known being the apocryphal figures of Pocahontas and Malinche. In The English Patient a similar identification, as in Lawrence occurs. Via the technique of the camera, we follow the two-seater plane over the desert, the goggles reminiscent of the widely circulated photograph

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of Lindbergh’s solo flights. The goggles point to an earlier era than the motorcycles of Lawrence (recall also The Motorcycle Diaries [2004], an image of daredevilry). The double seater plane on the other hand, is a thirties/forties image, of aviation in the Second World War. As the audience watches, the plane, carrying a woman and the pilot in goggles, is shot down and goes down flaming. This first scene contrasts plane with desert, and the desert is a place inhabited by the healing Bedouin in contrast to the warring Germans. So far, Europe seems like an interloper in a vast and ancient land, associated with death, fire, injury, weapons, war. In Lawrence, the hero is dead, indicated immediately by his funeral where the controversial nature of his heroic status is raised. In The English Patient , the hero survives, albeit mutilated and burned beyond recognition. The old conventions of war films, where the gore and the reality of accidents or war is often not portrayed, are shown only by symbolic signs like the goggles in the bush and the wrecked motorcycle a distance away. In The English Patient , we are shown the reality of the burns. Several other brutally realistic scenes occur in the film as well. The next few shots are in the dim darkened perspective of the wounded man, as he is being transported across the desert by the Bedouin healers, who are shown carrying bottles of traditional salves and ointments that are applied to his body. These Bedu are not individualized, but seem to stand instead for a collective timeless wisdom. “The Arabs are invisible, like ghosts” (see Beezer, Crash Cultures). The representation of the Bedouin is significantly different in the film compared to the book. Their many names, the history of the desert, are treated with complexity in Ondaatje, though the reason they save Almasy is shown to be self-serving; it is for his knowledge of guns. In the first scenes of the film, after the plane crash, we see the Bedouin through the eyes of the burnt patient, carrying him through the desert, their gatherings around the fire, the clinking glass bottles of the medicine man. But no details, no names of tribes, no description of lifeways are indicated. In this the film caters to a non Arab audience, for who the ‘other’ remains nameless and undefined, despite the great service they do Almasy. They have been described by other critics as “anonymous, veiled figures who appear like ghosts from the enfolding dunes of the desert landscape.” “Voiceless.. Mute… and cannot interrupt the silence…only the explorers break the silence” (Beezer, Crash Cultures). The book on the other hand has a great deal to say. It names the Bedouin with admiration, even in the midst of Almasy’s incomprehension:

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Where was he? What civilization was this that understood the predictions of weather and light? El Ahmar or El Ayadd, for they must be one of the northwest desert tribes. Those who could catch a man out of the sky, who covered his face with a mask of oasis reeds knitted together. He had now a bearing of grass. (9)

It tells us the methods of transport—a carcass boat (5), later ‘a palanquin of felt and branch’ (9), on a skid (19). It tells us their healing practices in detail, things the film shows only hazily, and without verbal explanation: They had taught him by now to raise his arms and drag strength into his body from the universe, the way the desert pulled down planes. (9) They poured oil into large pieces of soft cloth and placed them on him. He was anointed. (7)

Then we read of their life ways, how they used the burning metal that fell to the ground, making their tools and utensils from the falling planes; jewelry from bolts from the cockpit. Their medicine man who wore a cloak of glass bottles of medicine and salve, bringing in the odor of the sea, the smell of rust, the tide of chaotic airs, all these smells picked up by camels (11). He ‘was known to everyone along the camel route from the Sudan north of the Giza, The Forty Days Road. He moved between caravans and oases, with his cloak of medicines (10).’ In the film, the anthropocentric element triumphs over the paleoethnobotanic. The patient is unable to survive his memories, the emotional crush of the loss of Katherine, the shame of his betrayal, the regret of Madox’s death, his all-enveloping loneliness, to add to what he sees in the present, the doomed distress of Hana and the enraged suffering of the maimed Caravaggio. Had he stayed among those—Bedouin— who left the cure to a holistic synchrony with the desert, might he have survived? While the book suggests that possibility more than once, the film is centered on European men and women, their suicidal wars and their debilitating emotional ebbs and flows. For perhaps the answer to survival lies in connecting with the ancient wisdom of men’s encounter with the desert. Left alone in the Cave of Swimmers, with food, light, books, Katherine’s death is testament of their inability to survive as a pair. While the Bedouin brought a burned man who fell off a flaming plane to

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life, Almasy is unable, despite his desperate effort, to save a woman with a broken ankle and few broken ribs. The initial ephemerality of the Arab continues. During field trips, the Arabs are shown as supporting crew, intuitive, and child like. Al Alauf leads them in the call to prayer; they remain buried under the sand while Katherine and Almasy discover love. Male bonding with the Arabs in Lawrence is replaced by international mixed camaraderie here and later in Almasy’s reminiscences. In the next few scenes, set immediately after the end of the war, we are introduced in sequence, to a Dutch nurse, an American young female army recruit who is killed by a land mine, various wounded soldiers of different nationalities, a team of a Briton and a Sikh Sapper, trained to defuse land-mines, and finally, the patient himself, still severely burned, who is to be tended by the nurse. His actual identity is as yet unknown, but is cryptically referred to as ‘The English Patient.’ The message is one of a medley of languages, nationalities, countries. By contrast, the scenes following the death of Lawrence, both at Westminster Abbey, itself a symbol of Englishness, and at the offices of the British consulate in Cairo, is a world still caught in Empire, not as in the other, in a waning situation. The scene then moves to Italy, always an intermediary in the representation of otherness. In E.M. Forster or Henry James for instance, Italy functions as the place where English people let down their inhibitions, with Italians being no more than backdrops for this process. The Italian characters are emotional, sexual, uncontrolled, in contrast to Anglo-American reserve. Italy is also a place of timeless if sometimes decadent, beauty, and art. The first glimpse we have of Italy in The English Patient , is a set of cubicles painted an identical green, in which the patients lie in a row. Even the monastery they decide to use is thick with habitation, books, pianos, and many objects. These are in contrast to the silence and emptiness of the desert. So far, then the viewer might think of the desert with awe, its inhabitants the Arab Bedouin with a measure of gratitude. The camera however, shrouds the Bedouin in an air of mystery and does not individualize them. As Almasy’s memory returns, Catherine Clifton and the reading of Herodotus is the second sequence, beginning with the arrival of the Cliftons and ending with the desert storm. In the flashback from the Italian villa, the English Patient recalls his memory of the desert. The explorers sit around the primal fire, a motif that recurs in the fire that

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goes out in the cave where Catherine dies. The setting recalls ancient gatherings by the fire common to many cultures, as well as the storytelling motif from the past. The scene echoes thus the ‘Eastern’ frontier theme as well as the Romance. The figures who sit by the fire are mostly Europeans, with the exception of Hassanein Bey, and the Arab characters merely carry equipment for the team. In Westerns too, the end of the day is often marked by pioneer scenes around the fire, or around a tavern, while the “Indians” lurk around, either as beasts of burden or waiting to ambush the whites. In a collection of essays on Romance, the essays speak of the aristocratic romances of early English Literature giving way in the eighteenth century, to the Gothic Romance. In its shadows, and ghosts of the past, the return of aristocratic longings to patch together the sadly fragmented modern self, the essay by Hogle in the collection (quoted in Saunders 221) could well be speaking of The English Patient . In the film, Almasy, a Hungarian aristocrat, is presented as brooding and aloof, a veritable Gothic hero well captured by Ralph Fiennes. We also know him to be skinless at the beginning, described by the misnomer “The English Patient,” and physically and psychically disintegrated. Indeed, just as in the essay quoted above on Gothic Romances, it is his memory of his Hungarian aristocratic past, his djoike who sings him the love song that introduces the movie’s credits, that appears to hold him together from dissolution; that and his book, the Herodotus that survives the crash. Herodotus is ancient knowledge, the certainty of the classics that is fast giving way to the barbarism of war. Transposing Almasy to the nineties, aristocratic heritage is now for auction and sale, and no longer restricted to the real elites. Almasy is a Second World War character, but in the nineties, when the film was made, globalization is the contemporary reality. The English Patient would no longer be an anomaly, the man whose language is English, and nationality Hungarian. North Africa is not just the place where Tunisians or Moroccans live, but a theater for a new drama of homogenized European global presence. By the nineties, through commerce, banking and trade, Euro-America had broken through the protectionism of the postindependence years. While threatening to be torn apart first by the paranoia around the Cold War, then by its traumatic demise, then by terrorism and the military exploits that followed in his wake, a new kind of arrogance was taking root. It is due to Ondaatje’s perspective as an ex-colonial that he shows the masculine arrogance coming apart at the emotional seams. Lawrence showed adaptation,

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mastery, then cruelty, and degeneracy, but all in a masculine world of the First World war. In Patient, the initially arrogant and aloof Almasy is torn apart by love. The external battles with the hero vacillating between what are coded as Englishness and Arabness respectively, gives way to the global male, rendered effete with passion, ironically, for an Englishwoman whose husband is a collaborationist. It is a romantic tragedy set in the ‘Eastern.’ Through it all the North African Bedouins are invisible, but in a different way than Lawrence’s Arabs. Visibility is given to the Sikh sapper, however. What does Minghella mean by this? For as I have said, Ondaatje’s book gives the Bedouin healers more space. On their second stint in the desert, the idea of the romance of forbidden relationships is suggested, in the connection between Bermann and his young male Arab lover. The desert proves treacherous, for as they play during the journey Kamal falls off, Bermann overturns the jeep and the party splits up. Left alone are the only two Europeans, surrounded by North Africans. Katherine draws the figures on cards, and offers them to Almasy for his scrapbook. He refuses, she sulks in the sand, before the storm rolls in. The desert which was generous before, has been predatory, both in the accident caused by Kamal rolling over and in the terrible storm. But the storm is appropriated by Almasy as his first love song to Katherine as he lovingly describes the winds in highly emotive terms. As Almasy and Katherine drive together in a jeep and she flippantly and dismissively (indicated by her tone) asks him how he, a count, decides from his Hungarian castle, to venture into the desert. It is a presumptuous statement for Katherine, as she is an Englishwoman, with her English house and garden ‘with a view of the sea’ is even more alien to the terrain. Yet she assumes a knowing air. His answer, that he spent nine hours with a silent guide to Faya, and that that was a good day, puts her in her place, stating the irrelevance of words, the ceaseless babble she keeps up. Later in the film she comments: “You speak so many languages but want to say nothing.” Should one speak in the desert or remain silent to hear and divine its secrets? Not so long after, hiding in the jeep from the sandstorm, Almasy demonstrates to Katherine the power of words: the Ghibli, the Hammatan…: “let me tell you about winds. There is a whirlwind in Southern Morocco, the Aajej, against which the fellahin defend themselves with knives. The Ghibli from Tunis rolls and rolls and produces a rather strange nervous condition…there is the Harmattan, a red wind.

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Which Mariners called the sea of darkness. Red sand from this wind has flown as far as the south coast of England, producing showers so dense they were mistaken for blood.” The scene shows his ease in the desert that she won’t let herself share, further intensifying her position, in Almasy’s eyes, as the exotic emancipated woman. Her Englishness is stressed often, in her desire to die in her garden, overlooking the sea; the sea is her preferred landscape, not the desert. The storm brings them closer, and at that moment, Katherine becomes the substitute for the desert. This is indicated by the sand on her body and hair, Almasy’s erotic obsession with and question about what the spot at the base of a woman’s neck is called. Arab lands gather an exoticism all their own, in their romance with the desert, that the European can only narrate. At one point Maddox says: “Whoever own the desert owns North Africa.” And Almasy answers, “No one owns the desert.” The “Eastern” as a frontier attempt at owning or knowing the ‘Eastern’ other, is indicated by archeology and linguistics, as Almasy explores caves and demonstrates his mastery of Arabic. It is indicated by the subservient position given to Arabs, for Almasy, like Lawrence, appears to know the desert better than they and by the selling of maps to the enemy, where Almasy takes upon himself the right to dispose of intimate geographical knowledge. His desire for an overarching command over the topography is shown in the spectacular scenes where Almasy flies over the desert. Significantly it is the flight over the desert, this time carrying Katherine’s body, which burns him, eventually to death. However it is Bedouin medicinal knowledge that saves his life. As the severely burned Almasy’s memory returns, it zeroes in on a distant conversation. This is between the young Almasy, silent otherwise, but unusually loquacious in fluent Arabic, speaking to an old Tunisian about the wadi of Zerzura that the expedition is looking for. The film does not translate the Arabic conversation. But something about the mischievous glint in the old man’s eye and a corresponding embarrassment in Almasy’s, prepares us for the final sketch that Almasy records, with the words “the shape of a woman’s back.” The old man here is a kind of more worldly, less inhibited mentor reminding Almasy (as Katherine is

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soon to do) of his own sexual inexperience even while guiding him with a native’s knowledge of the terrain. Such dialogues continue, each time bringing up the desert. When he is shown talking to the old Bedouin, the conversation remains untranslated. We thus only know what Almasy hears: the plateau by the Gilf Kebir or the Cave of Swimmers can be identified by its resemblance to the shape of a woman’s back (Minghella 24–25). Almasy is not a colonial per se, but stands for his team, the team of archeologists who know no country. The more modern situation of Almasy vis a vis Lawrence is shown in that he is a man without a country. Maddox and he in a later scene talk of it. Almasy is solitary, only while up in the plane with Geoffrey, Maddox, and Catherine, does he seem social. Partly no doubt because Michael Ondaatje, the creator of the fictional Almasy, had a postcolonial perspective and did not fully identify with his protagonist, Almasy is shown as racist. As critics have pointed out, he has Almasy say some rather outrageous Eurocentric things. He speaks in defense of Kipling, for instance and he calls Kip, the Sikh, “boy.” It is in his conversations with Kip (who he refers to as boy) that Almasy takes a blatant paternalistic/colonial attitude to non-European races. But the sphere of this paternalism is only within those areas that were within the reach of colonialism: literature, Kipling; Herodotus; condensed milk, which Kip himself owns he likes. But there is an older Arab reality that recurs in the film which is more difficult to decode. Eugene SensenigDabbous frames his reading of Orientalism in Ondaatje’s text in the context of the historical Almasy, an Austrian-Hungarian count. Ondaatje’s Almasy (and even more so the film), is, the critic goes so far as to point out, with respect to Almasy’s disinterest in the Arabs: ‘the film’s borderline racism with respect to the portrayal of Muslim rituals and Koranic law. The truly anti-colonialist points are saved for the British and American historical crimes perpetrated against the Indians and Japanese’ (Sensenig-Dabbous, Eugene, 2004, 163–180). The feminization of a colonized land is a familiar trope and Lawrence of Arabia has been discussed as containing only one female character—the desert. Captures from behind (Acaba), female violations in the foreground while Turks retreat in the background, which present a similarly bloodstained desert and so on, highlight the metaphor. In The English Patient , the desert takes on a set of associations that are gendered female, the Arab characters portrayed, while generally benevolent, show no particular direction or ability to fight the forces of war invading their land, or means of protecting it. The one woman in the film is not only

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English, but very proudly so. The effect of her adulterous love affair with Almasy, widely sanctioned by critics as the central, redemptive element in Minghella’s reworking of Ondaatje’s text, also justifies its inclusion in the ‘Hollywood’ ‘Eastern.’ For instance, the male bonding/comradeship in the fire scene is pleasantly and distractingly interrupted by the presence of the woman. Both in the Hungarian culture from which Almasy comes and in the North Africa they now inhabit, women occupy stereotyped positions of invisibility or suppression. But in England the New Woman is on her way. Other novels of the period, explore this theme leaving a string of memorable heroines: Forster’s Schlegel sisters; Lawrence’s Gudrun and Ursula; Evelyn Waugh’s Brenda Last, Hemingway’s Brett Ashley. These women keep the company of men as sexual and cultural equals. For the lonely Almasy, the figure of Katherine Clifton is irresistible. In the diary she takes from him, he refers to her as K. and expresses his infatuation. Katherine begins her seduction during the story around the fire, through the introduction of the word “love,” telling the story from Herodotus, of Canduleas and Gygys (Later, the English Patient corrects Kip’s pronunciation of Herodotus’s text). The assumption of liberality in a woman connotes by now, a ‘progressive’ society, i.e., King George’s England which still had its Empire. Katherine, like Brett Ashley and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1925), personifies the mystique of the unattainable. In her is highlighted too the difference between Hungary and England encrypted in the film in the repeated song of Almasy’s djoike. In Almasy’s notes K (Katherine) is admired for wearing her clothes easily, a developing androgynous ideal, liberated from Victorian corsets and stays, or the veiled Arab woman. In the cultural politics of the ‘Eastern,’ this freedom defines adulthood in woman, just as the capacity for suffering in erotic passion defines adulthood in a man. Both Kip and the Arabs apparently are not quite adults in this sense. Patrick Deer sees the “white” lovers’ romance as a patriarchal narrative, one that elevates only whiteness as romantic and leaves Kip in a childlike subordinate position (Deer in Stam 213). If this version of the genre of the desert film glorifies the European couple as a love interest, what are the consequences for this of the marginalizing, subordinating, othering of the real natives of the desert? The crew are Tunisian and their otherworldly observance of the daily call to prayer sets in relief the worldly crew: Almasy desires achievement; Katherine desires the attention of men; Clifton obviously desires

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Katherine. The desert offers up its secrets in the form of the cave, especially because the cave is recognized by an erotic symbol. The cave is dark, cavernous, native, and in the end, it devours the European woman. We may note a parallel with the Marabar Caves and how another European woman, Adela Quested, fares in it. The intervening scenes in the souk, when Almasy follows Katherine, beginning to make his advances, suggest that from being the lone desert traveler, he is now drawn into the vortex of the civil life of the expatriates (Fig. 4.2). We may recall that early on, he is singled out by her reference to his ‘future’ wife. Later she admits the effect on her marriage, of expatriate status: ‘Here I am another wife.’ The desert scenes comprise solitary scenes of communion. There are instances of bonding, love or comradeship and group scenes. There is the dialectic between European and Tunisian within Almasy, a dialectic that this chapter has been tracing, as Europeans attempt to appropriate the Arab world. The Arabs are anonymous, in a story where the entire plot

Fig. 4.2 Almasy and Katherine in the Souk. The English Patient (1996)

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is geared to restoring Almasy, the burned anonymous victim, to his identity and his complicated past. Every detail is eventually recalled, and all the characters around him are committed to rescue him from anonymity (Palmer, 2015, 356–363). Yet the Arabs are denied any such individuality. To return to the opening scene, the International Sand Club which unwittingly includes a few spies, sings silly multilingual songs as a parallel action to the Tunisians who are basically porters, sitting around their fire. The one woman in the scene, Katherine alone, reads from a book, Herodotus. The desert here is a part of their lives, but they are apart from it in the recreations they choose. In the next desert scene, the planes fly above the desert, the pilots acting in concert as they signal each other to take photographs. Here too the apartness, as observers, male observers of an undulating terrain, Almasy and Maddox in one plane, Geoffrey and Katherine in another. The differences in the Katherine of the book version by Ondaatje and the final film by Minghella also throw the character into relief. Katherine in the book is young and coltish— in Ondaatje’s words, “khaki shorts, bony knees” (Ondaatje 229) at her first appearance as a new bride of just twenty four hours, accompanied by her uxorious, much-in-love husband. Her voice, and reading, not particularly her person is what first attracts Almasy who remains aloof. In the film, as I have mentioned, Katherine singles Almasy out for her attention. On one occasion, as Almasy says ‘a thing is a thing no matter what adjective you put in front of it’ she names different kinds of love, and says in her superior way, “very different things, surely.” She continues to bring up passion as in the very deliberate reading about Candaules’ wife’s nakedness, all the while glancing at Almasy, and ending the tale with the rival Gygys (stand-in for Almasy) killing the king. Later, she proposes a toast to future wives, once again, aimed at Almasy, then maneuvers to stay behind with him in the desert, after the jeep accident. Many such flirtatious cues on her part, place her as the sexually forward New Woman. In the book, her youth, her almost childlike erotic aggression against Almasy is more primeval, less the actions of a sophisticate. In the film Katherine as a worldly wise woman who fascinates Almasy with her ease “K’s clothes sit easily on her” (Minghella) is offset by a deeper Katherine, revealed ultimately in her dying words written in the cave (Minghella). We die….” Both film and book depict a kind of deadly passion, like the one between her namesake Catherine and Heathcliff.

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To this viewer the Katherine figure in the book, educates herself about the desert from scratch (Ondaatje 231) and her desire to change is emphasized: she realized she did not have to be a socialite married to an adventurer. This complexity reduces her colonial aura, the interesting irony with which, in the film, she reacts to Almasy. She smiles patronizingly if fascinated, by his reeling off of deserts’ names; she dismissively asks him why he left his castle for the desert, and its only at the end as he carries her to the cave, and in the notes in her journal, that she reveals her depth of emotion….“rich with lovers and with tribes”—expresses her distaste for wars, nationalities, and boundaries (Minghella). Throughout the film, she has celebrated her Englishness, her garden with its view of the sea, ‘poor’ Geoffrey, her husband even as she cheats on him, her desire for green and water and home, and her sought after status as the only white woman around. Sadashigue speaks of Minghella’s problematizing of “whiteness” by showing the hierarchies of whiteness: Caravaggio versus the German; Hana versus Katherine Clifton (12). Both gender and orientalist racial politics couple the romance of international camaraderie with the “othering” of the Arabs. The International Sand group meet in clubs, at dances, during expeditions. The International Sand Club is composed of Egyptians, a Tunisan, an Italian, an English couple, an Englishman, a Hungarian, a German. The Muslim Tunisians, Bedus, form the supporting crew, often riding atop the jeeps, and once, discussed above, causing an accident. Elsewhere the group is described as a prewar association of geographers and mapmakers, who were looking for wadis, oases, through their expeditions. In the end, it is the route through the wadi that leads the Germans to the British at Cairo and the maps for these are traded in by Almasy to the Germans in exchange for fuel and protection to go back to rescue Katherine. Ironically, flying back, those very Germans shoot him down as an “Englander.” The Europeans bond in Africa. Their friendship only highlights the absence of any such with their Arab hosts. Almasy and Maddox are often filmed alone together, flying together, talking of their plans. Erotics connects them. Maddox is the one who first suspects the affair, according to Almasy, he keeps referring to Anna Karenina (1878). Maddox asks Almasy to pull himself together as Almasy betrays his dissolution at the break up with Katherine. Finally in their last scene together, they speak of how their aims as explorers were disinterested, not divided by war, their quest a nobler enterprise. Maddox finally answers Almasy’s question as to

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the base of a woman’s neck: a superstellar notch. Maddox’s final words to Almasy, said and later left as a note with the plane he leaves for him “see you in Dorset” is ironic and tragically prophetic as Almasy the burnt Hungarian, is now the English Patient . A similar bonding between Almassy and Berman occurs in the incident I already referred to: the intimate moment between Bermann and his male lover. Bermann’s explanation, that things done in the desert are incomprehensible to those outside it, elicits a moment of bonding “I don’t know, my friend” says Almasy, “I don’t know.” Later in the film Maddox is similarly addressed as ‘friend’ (in contrast to the dismissive ‘boy’ Almasy uses to describe and address Kip the Sikh sapper). But in all of these instances, the connection with the “other” takes back-stage to the endorsement of one European male by another. Tracing the Desert Romance once again, Katherine is a version of the boyish Lady Mayo, attracted to the Arabic speaking, Fez wearing Almasy. Her English husband seems boring. Unlike The Sheik, Almasy is not Arab, nor is he English like Lawrence. But he is characterized as The English Patient. It is a peculiar amalgamation of types. Now, his appeal comes neither from Arabness or Englishness, rather from his chameleon like blend of them all, a man without a country. In the book, the Clifton bloodline is much discussed, while Almasy is said to have left his past behind. The film’s emphasis on the Cliftons, as very hard to fathom, is singular—are they feckless spies or Home Counties elites; is Katherine truly anxious to leave the desert and return to the green isle with Clifton, or is she pretending while having a fling? Many scenes depict men or women alone in the desert. Almasy often broodingly surveys the desert, is alone when he finds the Cave of Swimmers, and shouts out to Maddox, Almasy is shown packing up the camp alone, just before Geoffrey Clifton flies the plane at him. He walks the desert for miles (like Lawrence does) as he goes to get help for Katherine. Almasy is part of a European team examining African ruins. Early on, in a scene after the spectacular flight over the desert, he finds the Cave of Swimmers based on a tip by a local Arab, that the rocks around the cave resemble a woman’s back. This moment of male bonding between expert orientalist and the ‘native’ informant introduces the erotic theme that is to recur. Almasy’s ‘discovery’ of the cave, itself a colonial claim since the local people already knew of its existence, introduces the cave as an important motif for it is witness to the beginning and end of his love for Catherine. The cave is both the European traveler’s knowledge of the

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East, parallel to the discovery of routes and rivers by the frontiersmen in the Western, and the focus of Almasy’s romance. For her part, Katherine sits alone trying to ‘rearrange the stars’; she is alone in the Cave of Swimmers where she dies. The desert is a place of reckoning, a kind of judgment site where people confront the truth about themselves. It is her words in the desert, read out in the film to Almasy by Hana, that are perhaps her most honest: We die, we die, we die, enriched by lovers and by tribes,… tastes… bodies we have entered…… Until her final confession “I have always loved you.” In the film the Arabs are in general undifferentiated, adding to the ideological force of the ‘Eastern’ I have been discussing. Among the Europeans, several well-known historical figures, including Almasy himself, are named, specially in the film: Berman, Hassanein Bey were both well-known geographers. In contrast to the single nationality, the English in Lawrence of Arabia, versus the multiplicity of Arab tribes led by leaders such as Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness and others, here in the film version of The English Patient , there are Italian, North Africans, Hungarians, British, Canadians. But still the Arabs are undifferentiated. In the film’s middle scenes after the desert storm and his wooing of Katherine, Almasy is withdrawing from his explorer persona more and more. While he was an observer in the Souk, blending in, this time he stays in the hotel until Katherine visits him and symbolically washes the sand off his hair. His geographic interest has shifted from the desert to her body as he claims and maps parts of it. The interest in the depression at the base of her neck is a substitute for a similar action he does when he comes close to the cave. However a complex erotic subjectivity of interest to the modern viewer emerges. This is in contrast to the childlike Kip and the self-sacrificing part-Other, the self-sacrificing Hana. In the most Orientalist scene in The English Patient Katherine and Almasy rent a room in the middle of the Souk. Almasy lives near the souk, dresses in Arab jalabiya while there, but considers Tunisian hawkers to be cheats and juxtaposes a call to prayer with his djoike’s Hungarian song. Like Katherine, the viewer assumes it’s in Arabic. The syllables resemble Arabic, indeed Katherine thinks that’s what it is. But Almasy tells her its in Hungarian. It is an odd moment when Tunisia recedes as Almasy’s elite European identity plays over the muezzin’s call. A critic has commented on the eroticization of the European body in this love affair as the “others” Hana, the Quebecois, Kip the Sikh are shown as deprived,

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unfulfilled, unlucky. Despite Almassy’s burns his and Catherine’s erotic presence takes center stage while the others fade. Jacqui Sadashige writes that while the non-Europeans in other couples like Kip, are naive, innocent and incapable of recognizing or experiencing passionate love, Almasy and Katherine represent the “adult realization of love.…” Hana’s role as Kip’s erotic, romantic and sentimental mentor inevitably combines with the prominence accorded Katharine and Almassy’s affair to ground true love, and hence true subjectivity, more firmly and naturally in “whiteness than in brownness.” Later on however, Sadasigue goes on to say that the film problematizes whiteness as much as it does Orientalism. The mystical elevation of “white heterosexual desire” which “represents history’s ultimate victim and the hope of its transcendence” (Sadashige 12) nevertheless takes us away from the colonial geopolitics of the film.

CHAPTER 5

The Colonial Gaze, Modernism, and the Trauma of the Tropics

How are tropical spaces represented in the vision of two varieties of the modernist aesthetic: that of the liberal agnostic E.M. Forster and the doubtful Catholic, Evelyn Waugh? Both E.M. Forster and Evelyn Waugh are modernists concerned with modern man’s journey into the proverbial heart of darkness. The novels on which the films were based, were written in 1924 (Passage to India) and 1938 (Handful of Dust ). In Forster, Empire was beginning to totter. The liberal agnostic Forster and the Anglo-Catholic Waugh betray their specific biases through the crises they locate in other spaces. Film versions of these novels were made in the eighties and nineties. The film adaption (1984) was directed by David Lean and produced by John Brabourne, Richard Goodwin production company—Thorn EMI & HBO. A Handful of Dust’ s film adaption (1988) was directed by Charles Sturridge and produced by Derek Granger. The Production company was London Weekend Television (LWT). Both then are technically British productions, which fall into the category of dominant cinema outside of Hollywood, which I refer to under the signifier “Hollywood” (see Shohat and Stam 3). Reading the film versions of two of their novels, I argue in this chapter that primordial chaos in the one (Passage), and hell in the other (Handful ), are tropes signifying India and South America respectively. Woven into this casting of other spaces as part of the interior demons of the modern European, is the issue of conjugal love as a threatened © The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_5

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entity in the modernist consciousness. Following the trajectory of the two couples, Ronny Heaslop and Adela Quested and Tony and Brenda Last respectively, this chapter examines how the films subsume the reality of these other spaces to their role in the disintegration of certainties in the Western modernist consciousness. The many facets of Romance, I have argued, imbue the films thus far, keeping the modernist consciousness at bay. For instance, even Almasy, disintegrating in body, is restored a meaningful, romantic identity. Some critics, (Iain Chambers et al., Crash Cultures ) see a disintegrating postmodern self. I believe however, that the film reflects a view from an earlier era, that of World War II, not the “postmodern” one it was synchronous with. He sacrificed and betrayed for love. Not so the next two films. At this point it is necessary to demarcate Romantic Orientalism from Enlightenment Orientalism (conceptualized by Srinivas Aravamudan, 2011 in Enlightenment Orientalism: Resisting the Rise of the Novel ) from Modernist Orientalism (Khan 217–235). Romantic Orientalism may be indicated by a work like S.T.Coleridge’s Kubla Khan (1797; published 1816); Enlightenment Orientalism by Dr. Johnson’s Rasselas. A similar shifting of women’s location to the imperial theater from domesticity in Edwardian England, and back again, is read as modernist, more fluid and feminist than Colonial era Orientalism. As such it is closer to Enlightenment Orientalism which asked the same questions of English women’s role in Empire (Khan). However, unlike my argument, this essay still doubles back to the metropolis and the concerns of the New Woman there: Modernist Orientalism here struggles to incorporate the disorder of resistant natives, meandering sexualities, broken domesticities, and various atheisms into the cohesion of the novel genre by placing the bourgeois Englishwoman at the heart of its narrative. The rape and surrounding sequence serve to isolate the figure of the bourgeois Englishwoman from the national narrative. Individual sympathies aside, the concerns of the novel—the wronged Englishwoman, Indian courts, a rape—lead us, eventually, away from the colony, toward the metropolis …. The supposedly hyper-vulnerable white body of the Englishwoman has no more potential left to affect the colony, while England promises affiliative ties in place of family and organic domesticities. A fugitive from traditional units of national culture such as marriage and offspring, her narrative can only ever be a dissonant one, appearing through the cracks in the [End Page 231] narrative of the novel. Through the forlorn yet honest Adela, Forster

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extends the travails of the feminist Orientalism that found voice in India two centuries ago.…Thus A Passage to India is not a novel about the author’s supposed ambivalence toward empire but a somber reflection on the modern Englishwoman’s place in the metropolis. (Khan 229–231)

Passage to India and Handful of Dust offer provocative entry points into the role of the tropics in the construction of colonizing discourses, and consequently in the crisis of modernity. Three strands are explored in the following discussion of two films that shift the contours of the Hollywood ‘Eastern.’ I suggest that these are, first, the modernist theme of the disintegration of the conjugal ideal of the Victorians with the rise of the New Woman. Second, the paradox of both an adulation of and a judgment against, this New Woman, which is itself related to the gendered politics of colonialism, and third, the relation of both of these themes to the imperial theater which is set as part of the background. The result, I argue, of the use of the East/the South as a background for the modernist conjugal crisis, is a twist to the trajectory I have been tracing. In these texts, the place where the adventure hero/ine pursues their romantic dreams of the East, ends up being a challenge to those very dreams. The literary texts on which these films were based were both exemplary of the modernist novel, with its themes of alienation, angst, and the juxtaposition of the European with the ‘primitive’ (Sainsbury 59–73). Since both texts were literary classics, this chapter, while keeping the book’s focus on film, interprets the film versions in relation to some of the more influential critical theories used to read the texts. That one film locates the primitive in India and the other in Amazonian South America is a topic I will return to later. This chapter focuses on entropic spaces, be they the Marabar caves in India or the Amazonian rainforest and the Kaieteur Falls in Guyana. It asks: what is the colonial gaze of the tropics and what is insertion into a modernist consciousness? Thus modernism’s encounter with tropical entropy, environmental danger, and existential nightmare is typified in the European man/woman’s encounter with the East (Christensen 155–178). A recent article investigates some of these questions through juxtaposing two popular genres in the Edwardian period: the Adventure Novel and the New Woman novel (Martino 114–117). Romance has figured in a myriad ways in the analysis. Where does the romantic intersect with the modernist? Romance is intertwined both with Mrs. Moore’s mysticism and Adela’s excitement at the wonder of India. There is deep symbolic significance in the notably different environments,

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climate and peoples in tropical lands, for the Western modernist. The thirties and forties were reeling from war, the breakdown of the old Victorian structures of repression of women, and the slipping away of Empire. India might be the last romantic frontier. Why would these films be remade in the eighties and nineties? World hegemony was slipping away from the postwar West, and the specter of terrorism, located in far off lands, was beginning to rise. At the center of both plots is the disintegration of the European couple owing to the modern woman’s greater emotional agency and self- consciousness. Adela Quested comes to India doubting her sensible choice of husband, Brenda Last while still attached to her husband, cannot take on the life of an aristocratic wife. It is significant that in both films, an incongruous allure is accorded the woman, by the fiance/husband. Adela, with her serious brooding and questioning expression, is an atypical romantic partner, and Brenda, while obviously vivacious, is given an extraordinarily long rope by her husband even after her infidelity and indifference at the loss of her son, is known. However, the point is that in neither case is the men’s appreciation based on the women’s personal worth, rather a valorization of the role of “fiance” (Adela) or “wife” (Brenda). It is no wonder that both rebel. Through a cameratic reading of the films, I will demonstrate how in A Passage to India, the inquiring Adela Quested carries the weight of the first half of the film. She is in a strangely pampered position, both by the young collector she came out to India to marry, and the community itself. This solicitousness has profound imperial and racial coordinates. Colonized India as backdrop plays a role in the changing gender dynamic in Britain as Englishwomen began to assert their independence. This chapter explores three hypotheses. One, that reading the film from Adela’s perspective in the first part of the film, is an important marker of the new modernist heroine. Through the woman, we see the modernist theme of the disintegration of the conjugal ideal of the Victorians with the rise of the New Woman. We see her observing, along with Mrs. Moore, the reality of colonial administration. Adela follows, then, a long line of nineteenth-century heroines, like Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre and Dorothea Brooke, whose critical perspective on their society is accepted by the reader. Second, while these heroines are famously isolated by their critical stance, the film, like the book, presents Adela as initially embraced by the colonial British community, who see her as a symbol of their own imagined embattled situation. This is significantly different

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from the isolation the other nineteenth-century heroines face and can be historically contextualized. While the nineteenth-century heroines end up integrated into their context through romance, Adela moves away from the cloying community by seeking the company of Indians. Here we see the paradox of both an adulation of and a judgment against, this New Woman, which is itself related to the gendered politics of colonialism. In this process, the East comes to be distorted and the distortion reflects the relation of both of these themes to the imperial theater which is set as part of the background. The films select from the book, and the camera in the place of the cynical/ironic narrator, exploits the romance of Empire and its problematic role in the psycho-cultural life of England itself. The film medium is able to capture the extension of the British orbit to distant lands, which is the theme of the Eastern. The double perspective on the ‘Eastern’ is captured in the very first scenes. The opening overture characteristic of David Lean accompanies a screen shot of the Ajanta Caves. Buddhist caves, vibrant with color, with scenes of extraordinary aesthetics, court scenes, beautiful queens and royalty, the motif is extremely suggestive. The Dark Queen of Ajanta testifies to the aesthetics of the Ajanta period, black was beautiful and powerful, and suggests a social economy surrounding skin pigment that was antithetical to Atlantic colonialism where light skin color signified superiority. After the Rajput and Mughal aesthetics, as well as the European aesthetics of colonial painter Raja Ravi Varma, the darker phenotype was replaced by a lighter, less representative one, an aesthetic which continues to this day in Bollywood and Hollywood films representing India. Later in the film and book, Inspector McBryde, the Scotsman, declares that the dark races are attracted to the lighter but not the other way round. So the film’s beginning with Ajanta murals is significant, pointing to a much older civilization which has negotiated light and dark in myriad, complex ways since the beginning of time, compared to which, the color prejudices of the British seem narrow and paltry. The first shot of the heads of black umbrellas, taken from above, is a bird’s eye view of rainy gloomy London, the pale faced Adela Quested staring into the window. The umbrellas viewed from above are balanced by the suitcases similarly viewed from above as the ship lands. Mobility versus shelter in a rainy home. Adela and Mrs. Moore are both shot in front view, indicating that they are the people being observed.

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The scene reiterates that the European woman, at the edge of a nervous breakdown, is the lens through which the vast continent of India is to be viewed. It is a rainy London day. Behind a plate glass window is a ship, a steamer, such as those which were taking women and men to far off lands. Adela, holding a black umbrella, symbol of British conservatism, stares at the ship. Plate glass has been discussed as significantly connected to the rousing of yet frustration of desires of the English working class (Miller 1042–1054) “the desire of servants to…acquire the material possessions of their masters” (1042). Looking through the plate glass is a woman dreaming of seafaring. She is in a travel agents’ office, that of a major colonial institution, Cox and Kings, which arranged the passage. The official, like Dickens’ banker Mr. Lorry, is not just an official, but a family friend. He represents the benevolent face of British bureaucracy. His concern for Adela resonates with a subtext through the film, the solicitation with which the Englishwoman is regarded by all the British in the novel, until she speaks the truth and embarrasses them. The perspective of the camera replaces the very distinctive authorial voice in Forster. Liberal, agnostic, satiric, modernist, Forster’s narration typically guides our responses even while withholding a great deal. We see Adela as gawky but genuine, but do not know her inner torments, Mrs. Moore as mystical and distracted. We see this not merely by the things each does or says, but through Forster’s asides and guiding comments. Though not an omniscient narrator, as several key events take place outside of the narrators’ gambit, contributing to the suspense, he is a modernist who combines some Victorian traditions of satire (as in Thackeray). He rejects many of the certainties of an older age, but nevertheless keeps an eye on context, background, scene, which is very Victorian. Indeed the tension of the novel comes from that between the inner self, which remains inscrutable and alone, and a strong social portrayal. The camera’s position in the film reflects this shifting perspective, while yielding a political reading. The camera focuses squarely on Adela, her facial expressions of self-doubt, her disappointment with Ronny, her camaraderie with Mrs. Moore, her dislike of Mrs. Turton. In each of these interactions, the camera offers us a direct view of Adela’s face and her troubled expressions. For instance, Adela is often shown observing the situation: in Chandrapore, at the Bridge Party, at the behavior of the Turtons, Burtons, and Calendars, at the various gatherings. The scene of the party at

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Fielding’s offers us close ups of her conversations with others, but also ends with the entire scene being viewed by Ronny. Ronny barges in, is shocked by the sight of Adela alone with two Indian men, and orders her home. At this point the camera offers us a view of Ronny from over Adela’s shoulder—he wears a suit, in black and white, and looks threatening. We may recall that this is exactly the color scheme Adela views when, later, after the picnic at the Marabar Caves, tears steaming down her face, she sees Doctor Aziz, who is desperately trying to find her in one of the numerous caves, silhouetted against the entrance of the cave. The calm pool of water in the scene of the party, studded with water lotuses, is contrasted to her unhappy, nervous tears in the later scene. Also in the party scene, Ronny, looking threatening, and Aziz, standing in terror opposite him, sets the stage, in cinematographic composition, for the later scene. The replacing of Ronny with Aziz in Adela’s consciousness, suggested by this reading of the film, points to the colonial repressions that govern her delusion. For we see Ronny’s self-denial the very first time we see him in the station, when he gives Adela a chaste peck on the cheek then excuses himself to perform his duties at the reception committee. That he also comes through as a decent young man is precisely the point. The scene after shows Adela sitting in her bedroom with a mosquito net, reminder of the unpleasant India that Ronny faces, but also of the utter lack of sensuality in their relationship. Adela realizes she is to be a part of his colonial duty. That this duty is making him a racist person, i.e., one who accepts the ontological arbitrary boundaries the ruling classes have erected around themselves is something she has noted, both in the scene with Mrs. Turton on the train and in Ronny rudely interrupting Fielding’s party. She is afraid of Ronny’s colonial power, represses their sexual future, and projects, in one possible interpretation, the dissatisfaction of their sexless life, on to an imagined rape by Aziz. My second hypothesis is that Adela becomes a coddled symbol of the memsahib Englishwoman’s privilege as well as isolation from India. The expressions of benevolence in the faces of Mrs. Turton, Ronny, the couple observing Ronny and Adela dancing, are in stark contrast to those on their faces during the trial and after it, when she is called ‘bitch’ by Mac Bride. It is significant that the Scotsman should say this despite the apocryphal story of the encounter of English troops with Scottish women. In the train scene, Mrs. Turton, after speaking of their romance, immediately denied by Mrs. Moore, goes on to talk of Ronny being ‘one of us.’

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Ronny proves it in the scene where he barges into the party and rebukes and later speaks disparagingly of Aziz. During the polo match, another symbol of the Raj, Adela tells Ronny she will not marry him. Soon after however, the scene of Adela on a bicycle offers us a view of the ruins, the monkeys and the erotic sculptors from her perspective. Like her, we are invited to be confused and disturbed by this apparently primal sense of a predatory lurking sexuality, quite the opposite of the mysticism we glimpsed in the mosque. The experience leads her to reaffirm her very civilized and controlled engagement to Ronny. The film shows the extraordinary leverage given the visiting English women at whose behest is organized, first a Bridge party, complete, in the film, with a band. My second scene, then, is the Bridge party in light of this construction of Englishwoman. In response to Adela’s wish a Grand party complete with band is arranged. As the three British women breeze in, Mrs. Turton speaks an unintelligible Hindi, with the patronizing air she considers obligatory. Ladies in saris with ghungat wrapped around their heads, stand under the trees. The ladies in purdah are introduced to Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested. The camera focuses on a bunch of garishly dressed women, not unlike the image created by Forster’s text. Mrs. Turton blunders in Hindi—the ladies titter, Mrs. Moore wishes to connect. The sequence goes something like this. Mrs. Turton assumes through her appalling Hindi, that the women don’t speak English, even though, as upper-class women, they probably do. When Mrs. Moore, in a replication of the scene at the mosque, where she shows her respect both for Indian religion and languages, says she wishes she could speak to them in their own language, one of the ladies claims to speak English. The ladies go on to name London place names. The attempt of Adela and Mrs. Moore to connect as fellow women are frustrated. The educated Indian woman, who was in fact a figure of considerable agency in the period, is completely silent (Fig. 5.1). Studies point out how Forster’s representation of unraveling gender relations among Europeans as well as the complicated role of sexuality in Indian–English relations especially as it pertains to the ruling English and educated Indian men, the babu class, leaves out Indian women altogether (see Stoler, Natarajan). Armed with this critique, if we look at the Indian women in the Bridge Party in the film, we might see a dimension missing in the book (Figure 5.1; The Bridge Party). The women are dressed in beautiful saris, look infinitely more elegant than the English women and speak an English that sounds ‘normal’ to the ‘Eastern’ viewer. The Indian

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Fig. 5.1 The Bridge Party. Passage to India (1984)

women might prompt us to see the English women differently. While still huddling together as they do in the pages of the novel, their facial expressions show amusement at what they see. The film affords them a complexity that the book does not, especially given their reneging on the tea invitation. If Indian women are invisible, Indian goddesses are not. The voluptuous female Goddess had confronted Adela when she rides around in her very European bicycle, itself in other narratives like John Masters’ Jewel in the Crown, both a symbol of the British woman’s greater freedom of movement and the invitation to assault. This impression is conveyed in the next sequence of scenes when Aziz takes the group to the Marabar Caves. The earlier scene at Fielding’s house is equally marked by an absence of Indian women. Fielding showers, Aziz offers him his collar stud, then the party accompanied by the two European ladies, sits by the water tank. As the plan for the picnic gains momentum, once again, a group of men, Aziz’s Indian friends, plan the trip. The next scene shows Aziz sitting in the platform, transporting an entire household. The Indian woman appears again in the cave scene as anonymously part of a throng of village women who crowd the entrance of the cave leading to Mrs. Moore’s claustrophobia (Fig. 5.2).

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Fig. 5.2 Indian village women at the Marabar caves. A Passage to India (1984)

Social history documents the sudden value of the white woman who comes overseas (Roy, Ballhatchet, Stoler, Sinha). It has a historical and ideological component. Historically it heralds the setting up of secure British colonial family life at the end of the Sepoy Mutiny, free from the ‘bibis’ or Indian mistresses of company officials. The dating of this text is after the controversy over the Ilbert Bill on Indian judges being appointed, as well as the issue of whether Eurasian doctors could handle intimate issues like Englishwomen’s diseases. Prostitution, the containing of it and disease were a preoccupation while giving free rein to British male sexuality in the colonies (see Natarajan 45; Ballhatchet). The ideological mindset went something like this. The barrier between ruling class and ruled needed to be maintained. Women were key in this. For working-class British recruits, as part of their well-being, sex was deemed essential, while missionaries and upper classes preached and practiced rectitude. There was an extensive discourse around prostitution. British wives had the socio-ideological function of stemming the tide of bibis and prostitutes. Thus they were particularly precious, constructed as helpless beings who needed protection. But twinned with Handful of Dust dated within a decade after Passage to India, we see that the woman in England is herself rebelling.

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Adela exemplifies the angst that Brenda Last desperately fulfills. Lawrence’s Women in Love is another text of that period, where, in one conversation, Gudrun and Ursula reflect on the difference between men and women. Adela’s angst has been read in terms of the colonial psychic economy. The exercise of Government it argues, is taking on a martyrlike denial of jouissance or pleasure, in exchange for duty, taken on by officers like Heaslop and projected on to the ‘other,’ like Aziz. Forster both notices it and colludes in it, for his portrayal of Aziz is relentless in making him sensual (his crude reference to find Fielding a woman with breasts like mangoes). The movement of the film I have just discussed begins with the umbrella in the rain, ends with the breaking of engagement. The rest of the film is suggested by the scene sequence: the Bicycle ride/viewing of Erotic sculpture and the monkeys, she makes up with Ronnie, the spaces demarcated as safe colonial spaces, such as the clubs which are violated by the expedition: the danger is indicated by Aziz balancing dangerously outside on the train. The theme of households, clutter, baggage, scenes of Caves, Crowds, Mrs. Moore and the heat, Adela Climbing up toward the caves, the camera focusing on the Guide, bring in the chaos of India, seen from the perspective of this colonial female. There is no India for Adela that is not always already marked by her desire. She realizes this in the end, her role in the colonial psychic economy where she, the object of Ronny’s delayed gratification plays out Ronny’s own projection of sexuality on to Aziz. Playing out their expectation from a white woman, in other words, she falls for that economy. But even she, or Forster didn’t understand it this way, for she lamely says it was because she did not love Ronny. To look more closely at Adela’s behaviour, she petulantly requests that she see ‘ the real India’ complaining almost like a child denied a toy and asking for an adult to get it for her. Fielding is applied to oblige her. He then promptly assembles the group which meet at his house. The modernist heroine asks questions, she is not easily satisfied. But her dissatisfaction is likely to be no real threat to the system. Back in England, Virginia Woolf gave voice to the dissatisfaction of women who wanted rooms of their own, the attitude of men is singularly indulgent to these women. These women present a reassuring contrast to the highly repressed Victorian women, where Empire became an escape for men seeking a more liberated alternative. We may recall the photo earlier in the text, of Tipoo Sultan’s harem. The move

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from East India company to crown also brought in a high level of rectitude among officials. The cultural terrain of modernism returned to the primitive as a source of truth, but only in so far as it consolidated the civilized European self. In this, may read European women as occupying an interesting role. Seen as closer to the body, as in DH Lawrence’s women, with transcendental possibilities, as in Isabel Archer, or even spiritual, as in Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Ruth Wilcox in Howard’s End, the period was also a time of the New woman as the last chapter has discussed with respect to Katherine. The New Woman signifies the breaking of new boundaries in fashion, dress, behaviour, marriage, issues of compatibility. Ann Stoler points out how the discourses of sexuality that Foucault uncovered and threw light on the ‘primitive’ had a broader discursive field in Empire, in other words, they were played out outside first. In A Handful of Dust , Brenda Last is more of a New Woman, but that text too juxtaposes her attempt to break away from boundaries in the context of the primitive, a connection which the rest of this chapter will explore. The film I have been reiterating, keeps its focus squarely on Adela. Her expressive, inquiring eyes take everything in, and offer a perspective from which the Empire is judged. This chapter has already listed the number of scenes focusing on her. Adela, after wishing to see the real India, is frightened off by the monkeys and disturbed by the erotic sculpture, she rides back in her bicycle, symbol of the New Woman, and promptly takes back her refusal of Ronnie in the earlier scene. She wants India on her own terms, marked by her own desire. That this desire is not autonomous and something she can control, but is traversed by the power dynamics and the consequent sexual dynamics is apparent to her at a subconscious level in the cave, and only consciously understood in court. In the courtroom she says that it was in the caves that she realized she did not love her husband. In fact, what she does realize is that the lack of any eroticism in her relation to her husband, a fact which earlier gave her security, is a product of colonialism. Ronny has relinquished sexuality to his other, the Indian. Forster buys this binary in the lines he sometimes gives Aziz, which are highlighted in the film, Aziz describing women’s breasts, or reported to have visited brothels, but Aziz is also highly respectful of his wife and his sexual reputation. The ‘other’ is by no means what Ronny makes him out to be. In the scene in the film, Adela stares at Aziz’s silhouette at the entrance of the cave, and the sexuality repressed by Empire is driven home to her. Symbolically, he does not enter the cave. The film I think allows a clearer sense that Adela’s experience is entirely imaginary.

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The initial illusion on which it is based, ‘the darker races are attracted to the fairer’ declared by McBride, conflates power with eroticism. Even within India, through the succession of light skinned invaders, including Arab, Turko-Afghan, Mughal and British, lighter might have more power, leading to a socio-sexual preference. In the text of A Passage to India, Forster has this to say. As Adela looks at Aziz she regrets that ‘neither she nor Ronny had any beauty.’ In the film, this is not stated and so not obvious. An anonymous voice says in court, ‘even when the lady is so uglier than the gentleman?’ In the film it is the respected lawyer Mohan Ram who does not take any fees, though he sits around with a bemused expression throughout the trial. Having played Nehru in Gandhi and other films, this actor has an air of superiority which has the upper hand in the court when McBryde, himself obviously Scots, makes the racist pronouncement (see Brownmiller, 1975, chapter 3, 11–16 on the Scots’ sexual victimization by the English). However, in the film, it is the darker races who are given any semblance of life and color. The cave scenes are marked by the invisibility of the Indian woman again, leaving the European woman with no counterpoint. Adela seems composed while Mrs. Moore is hot and flustered, as the camera zeroes in on her face. She, Aziz and the guide are shown climbing the rock to the next set of caves. She holds out her hand for Aziz to steady her, an uncharacteristically helpless act. She asks Aziz about the number of wives he has, embarrassing him and the next shot shows him smoking a cigarette. She has suggested an image of him as a polygamist, falling into the stereotype of the lascivious Indian male. Predatory desire for her, a European woman, given the unavailability of Indian women, is the next step in the delusional frame of mind Adela is in. Like the desert cave in The English Patient , the modernist desire for self-understanding through a return to the primitive can either enlighten or traumatize. For Adela it does the latter. The scene in the film, with Adela inside the womb-like cave and Aziz seen framing the doorway, is sexual in imagery, followed by a bleeding Adela running down the rock face. Subconsciously she does what the English ruling classes believe and document in all their laws and documents. Kenneth Ballhatchett quotes a number of statements by Lord Curzon and others about the rapacity of Indian men even while revealing the real anxiety, that white women may ‘chase’ Indian men. Ballhatchett uncovers the correspondence between Hamilton and Curzon. (Ballhatchet 96, 98–99, 116; Sinha 116).

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Adela’s breakdown is not an anomaly in the text, or attributable just to her, it is the very ground on which the reality of colonial sexual dynamics can be understood. It is perhaps the only honest sexual action in the book. The ‘Eastern’ frontier theme is suggested by the explorations of the characters—Mrs. Moore in the mosque, Adela on her bicycle, the picnic in the Marabar caves. Strange spaces are sought to be understood, usually ending in failure. The British officials on the other hand, demarcate a world they control and keep segregated. It would be the counterpart of the settler versus the Amerindian village in the Western. In Westerns usually, the Amerindian village is portrayed as idyllic (the film 1492 is an example) while the settlers are rough. In the Western, the peaceful life of the Indian is shown as maladapted to this new reality but tenacious, while in the ‘Eastern,’ the colonizer attempts to infiltrate the way of life of the colonized. In looking at the way the films are organized, the two types place each other in relief. Aziz similarly is usually seen in direct views of his house in the Indian quarter, in the company of friends. In one scene he reads a patient’s thermometer, in another his is read, suggesting he is both curer and patient. In the scene in the mosque and in Fielding’s house, he is placed with the camera viewing from behind him, over his shoulder. The surreal scene of the moonlit mosque, the river Ganga and the moon over the club are all shown through his eyes, as also the shadowy view of Mrs. Moore in the mosque. Their exchange is shown with very close camera shots, focusing on each of their faces in turn, almost like is usual in love scenes. This closeness signifies a mystical connection, the intimate connection of each through a belief in a universal divine. In this sense their relations are the only intimately loving ones in the book, and cameratically indicated this way in the film. In the rest of the film, Mrs. Moore becomes increasingly more detached, shown by the camera focusing on a far away look in her eyes. The camera returns to her face often, capturing a detached, disappointed, fussy, look. Aziz, on the other hand, alternates between clownishness and anxiety. He is shown sleeping on the train platform surrounded by his household goods, then dangling dangerously from the train. In a later scene by the caves, the camera affords an aerial view, a long shot of the entire scene, then closes in on Aziz and Adela climbing the caves. Here the camera’s selective shots leave us with some doubt over what has happened, showing us things now from Adela’s perspective from within the cave (where she sees Aziz silhouetted against the cave entrance) and now from Aziz’s perspective from atop the higher caves, as

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he sees a panicked and hysterical Adela run down the rocky slopes and enter Mrs. Turton’s car. Mrs. Moore’s detachment leaves her apparent mysticism unable to understand India, while Adela’s eagerness leaves her equally so, the film echoes the book as saying. The other characters, Ronny, the Turtons and so on, ignore India even while ruling it. The film uses rude behavior in encounters to emphasize this. As the British officials enter Chandrapore, they run two Indian lawyers off their bicycles. This scene when the Turton’s speed through the Indian quarter at Chandrapore on their way to the Collector’s bungalow, kicking up clouds of dust and oblivious to the two Indian barristers they throw off their bicycles without so much as a backward look, is typical. The camera is placed behind the car, moves at high speed, and mows down anything in front of it. Similarly the two British ladies who help themselves to Aziz’s tonga, are shown from an angle that makes them seem larger than life, dominating the space of the tonga and elbowing out Aziz’s claim over the tonga as well as his dignity. The mosque, his next stop, is, by contrast, calm, and inviting in the moonlight. Historically, this period was the moment of the appointment of Indian judges and Indian lawyers would be a threat and needed to be put down. The bicycle scene is followed by dinner at the Hamidullahs where the Indians brood about the insults. Aziz is summoned while at dinner, to the Turtons, where the two snobbish Englishwomen help themselves to his Rickshaw. This rather offensive series of events is followed by an attempt at friendship in the mosque between Aziz and Mrs. Moore. The moonlight, the ambience of the mosque suggest one of the themes of romance: the attempt of individuals to seek friendships and connection across barriers of politics, in other words, a thrust toward an ideal world. With the Bridge party the next scene, colonial cultural barriers suggest the ‘Eastern’: Westerns often portray scenes of mutual misunderstanding between settlers and Indians. While the Bridge Party is farcical rather than violent although it does foreshadow the violence that is to ensue. While Mrs. Turton bellows her way in with Hindi, Mrs. Moore and Adela try, unsuccessfully to mingle. Cultural misunderstandings follow: the Indian women at Bridge Party cower in the corner. At Fielding’s, as the group attempt at making picnic plan, Ronnie interrupts, misunderstands Aziz’s collar stud and Ronnie and Adela break off their engagement. Here I have

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attempted to track the sequence in scenes already discussed, in order to emphasize their cumulative effect. The place of India as a backdrop for the modernist, as a primitive setting which recalls to the European modern his own ‘civilized’ decadence, is always in tension with modernist doubt that there is perhaps some romantic frontier where the races understand each other, where mystical empathy is possible and where happy endings can happen. That there exists an India which transcends the colonial encounter is suggested in both film and text, but in the film especially, much depends on the viewer. The unlikely marriage of Fielding and Stella, Mrs. Moore’s younger daughter; the elevation of Mrs. Moore to a benevolent spirit whose name is chanted, and the final idyllic life of Godbole and Aziz at peace in Kashmir, suggest this romantic possibility, which throws a veil on the colonial pessimism of the film. Such romantic modernism which seems like an anomaly, uniting the romantic and the decadent, is the brand of romance that draws the reader and could draw the viewer in (Lee 125–142). Romance in a Passage to India is both dark and transcendent. Mrs. Moore and Godbole’s transcendence connect with Nature in a romantic way, but they distance the viewer. The romantic modernist strain here negotiates the escapism of romance and the alienation of modernism through the convention of the Gothic. Elements associated with romanticism in other contexts: ‘poetic rhetoric, transcendent imagination, and heroic notions of the self,’ are found in other modernists like Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald himself is a Gothic modernist. That is one way we could classify the Marabar caves within the European Gothic. Like the castles in which strange sexualities lurk and characters struggle with split psyches and madness, the Marabar Caves are the perfect space for the Gothic imagination of the European romantic modernist. Here too a version of Romanticism acts as a shock absorber for the viewer’s perception of colonial Orientalism. The India, which in Benita Parry’s terms of the novel, “evades colonial physical invasion,” (Parry 174–194) is not immediately available to the film viewer: it is developed in the novel. The film version of A Handful of Dust (1988) begins with a tropical space, in a dream—first a lovely pool surrounded by a waterfall and Tony Last swimming in it. He invites his wife Brenda sitting on a rock side, to enter the pool: she declines, saying, oddly, that she is cold. This is only one of the scenes of South American geography and reference in

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the film. One of the early shots is of an old map: mapping the borders of the region around the Orinoco was the kernel of much mid-century British exploration in the region. The two subplots, the marital life of aristocrat Tony Last and the adventure he embarks in on the Amazon, converge when Tony meets an explorer. The explorer invites him, saying it is unclear which country they are traveling to, as it is in the border between Brazil and Guyana, terra incognito, a No Man’s land. It is of course not so: Native American tribes have been living there for very long. In spite of this, a whole colonial discourse had developed around the concept of ‘terra incognita’. Subsequent scenes show misty torrents reminiscent of Iguazu and Kaiteur, and capture the flatness of rivers like the Potaro which suddenly turn into rapids. The opening shots are typical of the sort of descriptions Alexander von Humboldt made famous. The river which had been “almost two and a half miles wide” upstream…. “narrowed… .the Orinoco forged through a mountain chain in a series of small river passages of around 150 years wide, .. [O]ver several miles the river descended in hundreds of rocky steps, the water roaring and whirling and throwing up a perpetual mist that hovered over the river.” (Wulf 77)

The setting is the fabled El Dorado located in Guyana, the only British possession in South America, called ‘the neglected gem in the British crown’. Acquired in trying to gain suzerainty over a large terrain nestled within the Spanish Empire, it occupies a nebulous position. The pool scene is followed by a dystopic scene where Tony Last lies sick in a hammock, with a yellow clockwork mouse as a disjunctive object. Tony Last it turns out, is dreaming while strung on a worsted hammock, deliriously ill, surrounded by flies and mosquitoes, a sinister clock mouse, and decrepit surroundings, a veritable dystopia. Taken together with the opening idyllic scene of conjugal possibility, this scene highlights the absence of the New Woman in the Amazonian tropics, existing only in the hallucinations of a man’s fevered delirium. The scene shifts in a flashback to Hetton, Tony Last’s country estate in England, from which point the story resumes. These two parts of A Handful of Dust , seemingly disparate, connect with my thesis in this chapter and in the book. The first part is set in the English country house, opulent, somewhat vulgar, but loved by the aristocratic owner, Tony Last. The scenes there depict the leisured boredom

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and priggish arrogance of country life, with Tony and his wife Brenda engaging in civilized pleasantries that ill conceal the monotony of their lives. The second part in the Amazon is a Pie Wie village where Tony Last is first helped, then held captive, by an ancient settler, son of a Barbadian Englishman and a Pie Wie, who seems to rule the tribe. Captivity is common to both stories. Brenda is held captive in Tony’s estate and the entire first part traces how she attempts to escape. The trope of entrapment, which is a feature of the colonial Adventure films and novels, where the hero is imprisoned by a savage tribe, is utilized here, with the woman feeling herself entrapped in the pretentious aristocratic life. She is physically immobile; socially isolated and economically dependent. When temptation comes in the form of John, she escapes to a bohemian London life, accompanied by the gigolo John. But her escape is hardly an escape as she is now victim to the wiles of John and his mother, and her abandoned maternal responsibilities follow her accusingly. Her rebellion is neutralized by her pauperism and the noblesse oblige shown by her husband. Her husband however, thoroughly emasculated, still holds the purse strings and the property. Tony refuses to believe the infidelity of his wife. Brenda Last, the New Woman, feels stifled and yet wracked by guilt as she seeks the New Woman’s life in London. She takes a flat, and spends her time with an exploitative gigolo who wishes to live at her expense. Rejecting the position of the self-denying aristocratic wife, her reaction at her son’s death when she displays obvious relief that it is not his namesake her lover who died, is the beginning of the moral hell that plays out in the story. Tony however shows remarkable Christian forgiveness, generosity and restraint, until his patience is severely tried when Hetton is at risk. The scenes where he refuses to cooperate with his lawyers as they arrange for his sham adulterous affair, are further proof of his gentlemanliness. Disgusted with Brenda’s brother’s avarice, he decides to go to the Amazon. As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that Brenda’s bolt to freedom is short lived and illusory: she continues to be imprisoned by her guilt, her new lover’s grasping mediocrity; his mother’s social climbing and manipulations; her flat in London; the lawyers mediating between her and Tony. In the second part of the film after his illness, Tony is held captive by a lunatic colonial settler in the Amazon, and his attempts to escape are frustrated. The film gives no sense of the exploitative process of colonialism. The Barbadian English/Pie Wie settler looks back to Dickens the way Last looks to the hoary history of his landed estate as a place of no

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conflict. Brenda on the other hand looks to the new, the young, the rootless dilettantes of the city. The murky truth, that England’s landed estates were held together by money that came either from American heiresses or from colonial plunder is not acknowledged. In Henry James we see time and again, in the American heiresses’ entrapment by old Europe, a version of modernism’s New Woman. These women seek alliances with something they see as lasting, when in fact their money is all that draws their old world lovers to them. Instead of the primitive, the modern woman is drawn to the decadence of the old. In Handful of Dust , the female airwoman, friend of Tony’s is this figure. Compared to Brenda, she seems strangely artless and naive. The New Woman’s role in Hollywood’s portrayal of the ‘other’ is thus a little less direct in A Handful of Dust than in A Passage to India on the issue of the New Woman. ‘Typically defined as white, educated, and middle class, the New Woman appeared as a suffragist, progressive reformer, and woman’s club member, and, in the popular press, as the independent consumer or the bloomer-wearing bicyclist’ (Patterson 180). The film moves back and forth between the two stories, constantly reminding us of the synchrony of the two worlds. For instance, a scene of Tony in a hammock surrounded by buzzing mosquitoes, is followed by the shots of the county home. The voice over from one extends into the other. An indigenous feast scene is juxtaposed with a London party scene. Curious as the dichotomy is, between the woman question and the colonial adventure, in fact the New Woman novel and the Adventure novel (the sources for Hollywood) have been linked elsewhere. Stephen Arata’s Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siècle, ‘sees the adventure romance as a response to anxieties (in which the New Woman played no small role regarding the degeneration of the British race and a supposed emasculation of British culture)’ (Martino 114). Further, … “proof of the ambiguous position of English women in the empire is that they belong to the colonizer’s race but, as subjects of a strongly patriarchal system, sympathize with the oppressed” (Martino 117). The article makes some points relevant to the film. Referring to the late Victorian debate on the rise of woman on the one hand and the high noon of Empire which was already beginning to overreach, the article reviews a book which refers to two genres that suggest parallel concerns. The New Woman novel generally demonstrates how the New Woman breaks out of the shackles that bound her, link by link. Through Meredith’s heroines, all

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the way to Edwardians like D.H. Lawrence, these women experiment with lifestyles, dress, rebellion from domesticity, sexual liberality and rejection of motherhood. It is easy to see that Brenda Last is exactly this figure. She is bored in Hetton, takes a lover in London, lives a Roaring Twenties kind of life and completely neglects her child. The shocking moment comes when, told of her son’s John’s death, she actually “thanks God” that it isn’t John her lover who is dead. In one fell swoop, she dismisses blood connections, preferring those of free love. The irony of course is that she is now in her lover’s thrall. The Colonial Adventure developed alongside the New Woman Novel novel, the review goes on to say, and they had parallel interests. The colonial adventure novel, by the early twentieth century, does portray the decadence of Empire in examples like Kurtz. Proximity to the other is bringing the white man to decay and even creating characters like Kurtz, and Rider Haggard’s She, drunk with colonial power and dehumanized by it. “She” brought in a new paradigm, the woman in this decadent position. The two genres unite in “She”: the New Woman in the imperial theater. What the genres have in common is fear of degeneration; by breaking down marital convention, the New Woman emasculated British men, and by cultural displacement, the English colonizer turned savage. The New Woman Novel and the Colonial novel were “formally, structurally, and ideologically complementary” (Martino 114). Each used or departed from the tropes from the other. In others, the New woman novel might be framed within structures that looked like Empire. The woman, a subordinate not dissimilar to the colonized male, is overthrowing her yoke. So its in the adventure novel that the colonial Male asserts himself as manly. A Handful of Dust uses permutations from the new woman/adventure novel dialectic. It represents the New Woman’s emasculation of the Englishman, the settler turned savage, but the fleeing Englishman continues as victim. The tables are turned on the would-be Adventure hero in Guyana. The entrapment trope continues, he is trapped first by disease and later by the monster Todd. There is a dystopian discourse not unlike the one Brenda encounters in London, only this is its grotesque colonial double. John and his mother ply her with alcohol and attempt to trap her, just as Todd ladles potions into Tony, and has him read Dickens to him. This is a grotesque parody of Empire. One could say that the film uses the imperial stage to demonstrate the grotesqueness of the New Woman in the eyes of the male status quo. Tony

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Last is victim in both. So In a sense, both parts of A Handful of Dust are parodies of the positive representations of the New Woman as a threat to patriarchy; and the Adventure Romance as a retaliatory affirmation of maleness. In A Handful of Dust , the aristocratic male is doubly defeated; but retains our sympathy. Brenda Last, after temporary setbacks, thrives in an amoral world. Her current companion, Tony’s friend Jock, whose speech in parliament she casually speaks of, is the friend who witnessed her terrible indifference to her child’s death, while anxious for her lover. Similarly the parody in Guyana works as follows. The adventure film or novel exalted the European male’s (in genres like the Tarzan films, etc.) ability to adapt to the natives and rule. In Mr. Todd, we have that adaptation taken to a grotesque degree. Mr. Todd is the son of a Barbadian Englishman and a Pie wie; has fathered numerous children among the Pie Wie; is worshipped by the ‘natives’ and imprisons English speakers passing through. In a patriarchal/colonial move, just like the morally monstrous New Woman triumphs, so does the monstrous colonial hybrid who is a parody both of English enlightenment and education; and of indigenous wisdom and survival skills in the Amazon. He likes Dickens, but is illiterate; he knows how to heal, but to his own manipulative cruel end. Are the restrictions of the landed Catholic gentry juxtaposed with the hell of the Dickens lunatic in the tropics relevant to the issue of the New Woman? Could we say that by demonizing the other, the ‘half-breed’ colonial who distorts the ‘ideals’ of British civility to control his prisoners, who becomes a kind of mirror of the women doubly trapped in a world unready to accommodate them? Is the woman’s psychic hell transposed on to the tropics? Forster’s liberal ambiguity does the same juxtaposition between the inscrutability of India and the alienation of the modern European conjugal relation. But his honesty relative to Waugh has the truth of colonial repression emerge, while Waugh obfuscates it in our horror. The film plus book is essential to get the full picture especially in the latter. While Passage till retains some romance of intercultural contact in the mythologizing of Mrs. Moore, or the return of Fielding, Aziz roundly refuses any possibility of romantic resolutions in a colonized relation. “Not yet”, he says. But in Handful, the last vestige of romance is routed in a madman’s glorification of Dickens. Love, travel, hospitality, the allure of the tropics are slowly revealed as ugly. Even for film viewers unfamiliar with Waugh’s novel, there are enough suggestions that Tony is religious. He takes his son to the family chapel, schools him in noblesse oblige toward to laboring classes. The film shows

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the child being rude to his nanny, and asked to apologize, in a patronizing gesture, but the nanny’s presence alerts us to the eventual abandonment of the child by his mother. The home is uncomfortable but for Tony a symbol of property pride which is also committed to maintaining beleaguered Catholic traditions (his surname Last is significant); reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited. Yet Tony’s persona is divided between his pious nobility and his continuing with cruel traditions such as the fox hunt. There is thus both Paradise and anti-Paradise suggested in the house. The literary version, reflecting Waugh’s religious preoccupation, suggests a subtext dealing with biblical motifs, which plays with the idea of the foreign tropics, the Amazon, as a type of hell. Those allusions include St. Augustine, Dante, Milton, and, of course, T.S. Eliot. Cunningham refers to St. Augustine, with reference to Tony Last being the good Catholic (Cunningham 116). Considering Augustine, Cunningham alludes to the philosopher’s The City of God, and it is interesting how the pilgrim is equated to a stranger or an alien—what fitter words meaning the other, a kind of racialized estrangement. Reference too is made to the apocalypse not only according to John but also to Ezekiel (Cunningham 120). Cunningham also emphasizes Evelyn Waugh’s Catholicism, and how this directly affects, for better or worse, his writing. Cunningham resists readings of previous critics, like Malcolm Bradbury, Bernard Bergonzi, and Frank Kermode, and instead draws attention to “the structure of allusions and the pattern of metaphors that point beyond the state in which the plot leaves Tony” (Cunningham 117). Cunningham asks if faith has failed Tony. Tony goes through all the motions of being a “good Catholic,” attending church every Sunday, for example. But is the very notion of religion via Catholicism doomed to fail from the start? These are two questions that come up in Cunningham’s analysis. Do the metaphors in the text transfer to film? there is the Paradise motif, Eden, sin and punishment, the sinful word that cannot be taken back, consigning the speaker, in this case Brenda Last, to a type of hell. Many in the film live in purgatory, stuck between worlds. In a Catholic reading, Hell is a definite trope which snakes in-between the two worlds—London and South America. The city of salvation appears to be nothing more than a couple of mud huts ran randomly lumped together and housing some subhuman species in the Pie Wie Indians. Thus, Latin America is a type of hell, run by a ‘half breed’

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illiterate madman in Todd (Cunningham 121). Cunningham also remarks that Todd in German means “death” (121). Another notable allusion is to Milton in God “‘brooding over the vast abyss,’” and Waugh’s analogue when he has Mrs. Rattery “‘brood(ing) over her chequer of cards’” (Cunningham 122). Aside from the illusion to Milton, the Waste land is suggested. In Dante, the reader has Tony doing a penance of sorts when he is forced upon penalty of starvation and death to read to Todd the Gospel according to Dickens. This, argues Cunningham, makes A Handful of Dust , a Dantesque Purgatory. Exploration, though hellish, is presented as an alternative to an unhappy conjugal and family life for Tony Last. Brenda’s adultery is the single reason for his desire to go to the Amazon. The film’s location in South America recalls our earlier discussion in Chapter 1 on modernism and the ‘family.’ The fascination with the premodern or the ‘primitive’ underpinning modernism is, in Latin America, “literally a domestic issue” (Sommer 45). The two films juxtapose two threads that link this book. First, the sense of hierarchical difference, kept alive by cultural violence which I have identified as common to both the Western and the ‘Eastern’. This warp of this thread is set against the woof of the second thread—the genre of romance, of love, of exotic travel and strange experiences, of the mysterious in the familiar, of the heights of a cause, of identification with the land. I have been arguing that while the former barely masks political ambitions, the latter mitigates their effect somewhat. The aristocratic Englishman is beleaguered on both sides: one from the new Woman at home, and two from the crazy ‘mestizo’ explorer in the terra incognito of Guyana. In sum, the film/book presents a catastrophic view of change, be it in gender or in cultural contact. Both are destined to end badly. In both cases, the film, though made at a different colonial moment than the original text, restricts any kind of sympathy with the cause of the New Woman, or of the paradoxes of European explorers’ simultaneous belittling and exploitation of Native Americans. The history of Guyanese exploration gives us insights into this process as does turn-of-the-century genres like the New Woman Novel and the Adventure novel. The film cements a bizarre alliance of misogyny and racism. The representation of Brenda Last and her willing enslavement by a mediocre

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London gigolo at the monetary expense of the aristocratic Tony Last threatens to drain him of economic capital, already precarious due to his outmoded aristocratic obligations. In Guyana, an expedition he funds is robbed by the local ‘childlike’ Pie Wie tribe, led by a Barbadian English/Pie Wie mestizo. Together the hybrid and the natives form one bizarre family unit (‘all the people in the savannah are my children’ he says), which enslaves Tony. If Brenda and her brother attempted to drain his economic capital, Mr. Todd leeches off his cultural capital: his literary literacy and ability to read Dickens out to his host, who makes sure, with local potions, that Tony is cut off from the world. In the war between European and ‘mestizo’ in terra incognito, the European is defeated. This film has two historical reversals of European colonial discourse on Guyana. In the work of two prominent explorers Schomburgk and Hillhouse, who were the authorities on the region, the plethora of accounts present a very mixed text (see Appendixes). Their material was recorded in journals like the Royal Geographical Society Annals (JRGS) in diaries and journals they themselves kept, and in Naturalist journals. Though Waugh himself and certainly today’s filmmakers have access to all kinds of knowledge about Guyana, the geography of a fascinating land, details of soils, geology, ethology, rivers, etc., in the film it is reduced to a tropical hell. Knowledge about exploration to the Guyanas (through the writings and diaries of Shomburgk and Hillhouse) was known from the mid-nineteenth century through the Journals of the Royal Geographical Society (JRGS); books and journals addressed to Natural History audiences (for example, the 2 Volume Natural History of the Fishes of Guiana, 1843 with 50 hand covered engravings of 80 freshwater fish) and colonial handbooks, documents for colonial officials, traders, merchants, investors (Burnett, 2000 referred to in Burnett, 2002; 3–40 is the source of the information that follows). So Waugh would have had multiple historical sources to choose from, as would the filmmakers (Appendixes 1, 2 and 3). It is understandable that in the modernist times of Waugh’s original, in the decay of Empire best typified in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, as well as Waugh’s Anglo-Catholic beliefs (see Cunningham, above) the evil man would be a Kurtz/Todd like figure living in the midst of horror. But it is less understandable in a film made more recently. One can only conclude that the filmmakers did not cater to an audience which had read Simon de Bolivar or Edward Said or Frantz Fanon.

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A Guyanese writer, Wilson Harris, is one of the most eloquent novelists on the European “return to the bush” and how it impacts the indigenous, relegating to the margins: The people at the center of the jungle communities shimmer on the margins as black or Amerindian workers in European texts documenting Europe’s (re)turn to the bush. The most famous in the British tradition, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, comes immediately to mind for foreign readers grappling with the chaos of which Harris writes so masterfully. Given Harris’s erudition in European as well as Indian, Amerindian, and African traditions, and the inclusion of quotes from English and European authors for his epigraphs, however, this insistence on Europe as the original reference point is consistently, and pointedly, turned on its head. (Carr 133–156)

The discourse of European centrality works on many registers. First the land and mapping. One of the early scenes of the film shows a crumpled map. Mapmaking, charting out an unknown territory where no man had ever been, is also attempting to fix the borders of Guyana, the better to control it. Ross Forman summarizes the kind of novel: Turn-of-the-century popular novels about British Guiana, such as Frank Atkins’s The Devil-Tree of El Dorado (1896) and Robert MacDonald’s The Rival Treasure Hunters: A Tale of the Debatable Frontier of British Guiana (1910), sought to justify Britain’s right over territory disputed with Venezuela and Brazil through their indigenous characters, who clamor to be British and who seek protection from latter-day slavers in neighboring countries. “I think you are British in any case,” one of MacDonald’s characters assures the descendants of an Incan group, holed up in a mountain studded with diamonds, “for the flow of the waters, it has been decided, is the real boundary, and your lake drains into the Potaro, no matter where the outside rivers go”. (345) The origins of this idea that territorial differences might be settled according to Britain’s superior ability to safeguard Amerindian rights and through selective interpretations of “natural” boundaries is one of the many historical and geographical patterns traced by D. Graham Burnett in his powerful study Masters of All They Surveyed. British Guiana is one of the more overlooked gems in nineteenth-century Britain’s crown. (Forman 1)

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To any viewer watching this film, the land and inhabitants are some no man’s land. The symbol of this indeterminacy is the freakish Mr. Tod who claims that all the natives of the Savannah are his children, literally and metaphorically. For one thing, the American Indians inhabiting the vast valleys and banks of the Amazon, Orinoco, Essequibo, Potaro, and Rapamuni; the rivers Essequibo, Corentyne, Berbice, Takutu, Parima, and Rio Negro, and diverse tribes like the Pie Wie, Arawak, Macoosie and others were regarded with a strange paternalism that camouflaged the land greed. The local peoples are shown in a few scenes. Once when they receive the toys brought by Tony and his companion soon after it is realized they have stolen their possessions. No doubt it is part of Mr. Todd’s plot to trap the travelers. Third, they are shown in a dance scene which is portrayed in a typical scene. There is no sense in the film, that the story of the encounter of British explorers and the indigenous people was complicated and fraught with contradictions. True, the film is reproducing Waugh’s novel but at a totally different moment. There could have been a chance to inject some of the complexity of the truth. Instead Handful of Dust shows the Indians in the worst possible childlike light. At one point the Macoosie Indian guides beg the Englishmen for cassava. This is so outrageously a distortion of what actually happened in these explorations, specifically around cassava. Burnett offers an account of cassava so significant that it is included as an appendix (see Appendix, p. 250 on cassava bread): The much-mythologized foray into the terra incognita of the Guianas depended entirely on the unglamorous, oversized pancake called cassava bread, the staple diet of explorer and crew alike. The narratives of interior expeditions sometimes read as journeys from cassava transaction to cassava transaction. In a part of one of his accounts (edited before publication by the RGS), Schomburgk pointed out his dependence on the ability and willingness of the native inhabitants to provide cassava. (Burnett 29)

The above account also describes the crucial role of women, which in the film version is obliterated for an image of women complaining to the English about other tribes (Pie Wie people bad) or asking for cigarettes, fawning over the madman Tod, bearing his children. The one detail made much of in the film is perhaps historically true:

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Here is Burnett quoting Hillhouse And Schomburgk: “We were very friendly received and they gladly entered into barter for knives, salimpores, calicoes, combs, etc. giving us cassava bread, plantains and yams in return.” (S and H 110) This account of the critical trade for cassava bread, the lifeline of the expedition, was also cut from the published account of Schomburgk’s expedition, although several references to the need for cassava did appear in print. Often in describing the transactions for provisions, however, the explorer focused on the “delight” of the native inhabitants with the receipt of the various “trifles” offered for trade. Only when the Amerindians refused to trade their provisions, or abandoned settlements caused supplies to run dry, did the drama of the expedition account describe the peril and reveal (indirectly) the dependence on the native inhabitants. When the Amerindians provided the bread, fish, and game that fed the expedition, they remained largely invisible. (29)

Further, the impression the film gives, of the English being far from the center of such explorations is also borne out. Burnett calls this “the tenuousness of Schomburgk’s pretended mastery.” Whom did all the hundredweight of cassava bread feed? For the most part, it fed the fifteen to sixty Amerindians of the expedition crew: the pilot, who steered the craft down the precarious rapids; the bowman, who read the surface of the water; the paddlers, who drove the boat against the current; and in many cases, the wives of all of these, who also made up part of the expedition. What were women, and in some cases children, doing along on the heroic exploits of the explorers? For the Amerindians who made up the bulk of what Schomburgk or Hillhouse called their “crews,” the expeditions were often conducted in the same way, and with the same equipment and provisions, as their seasonal migrations or hunting trips, with the addition of several white passengers. When the Amerindians traveled in the interior they frequently did so in family groups, so that the women could prepare camp while the men hunted and so as not to leave women and children behind and vulnerable. Schomburgk may have called the Amerindians his crew, but it is difficult to imagine that they did not consider him their temporary passenger. The tenuousness of Schomburgk’s pretended mastery is clearly revealed in another unpublished interaction: “We left on the 11th of October, many of the Indians accompanied by [End Page 29] their women and children which swelled the number of individuals to fifty eight—all opposition from my side was rendered useless by their observation that if they shall not go, we won’t go either.” quoting S and H 111. (Burnett 29)

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The film also shows the contradictory dialectic between romanticizing the pristine state of the Amerindian contaminated by the European. The discourse is denigrating of their primitivism, yet condemning them for any attempt to imitate Europeans. The coast Indians are seen as the epitome of corruption. They are Homi Bhabha’s mimic men. Burnett says Schomburgk wrote in one of his expedition accounts: “During my intercourse with the Indians in the interior, and I do not allude to those miserable beings near the coast who are contaminated by our vices and lowered to the brute creation by the influence of that bane to the Indian races—rum, I have never witnessed a quarrel between man and wife” (Burnett 49). And Hillhouse, while less romantic about Amerindian virtues, concluded his account of a voyage up the Mazaruni on a similar note: “We found, however, an Accaway, of Coorobung, with all his superstition and stupidity, infinitely superior to an Arrawaak of the coast with his pretensions to cultivation; and it was not until we returned to the post that we again entered the atmosphere of vice and crime, Indian misery and depravity” (Hillhouse 50 JRGS 4:40). In the following account, we see the real story of exploration among the Indians (Appendix 2, on explorers’ dependence on Amerindians): Schomurgk … sees the coastal native as imitative of European ways, addicted to rum and thus despicable. He sees their behavior as promiscuous (Burnett, 2002: 3–40): here were “pure Indians” of the interior, uncontaminated by contact with the colonial settlements, and “sluttish Indians” of the coast, (47) where the bad influences of plantation life corrupted the “natural openness” and “strong moral virtue” of the “authentic” native.” (48)

In this discourse, borne out by the film, the half-European Pie Wie, son of a Pie Wie woman, is turned into a monster. Hence the mestizo, something of a hero in Latin America, is described, thus, even in the Guyanese context, by Hillhouse. The Amerindians were not only a vital colonial fighting force for Hillhouse, they were also, in his eyes, the potential progenitors of a proper colonial militia. …. Referring to the neighboring Hispanic colonies, Hillhouse drew attention to that “invaluable class of society, the Mestizes ” who “possess all

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the mildness and docility of the Indian united with much of the energy and industry of their European parents.” A free mestizo militia seemed the long-term solution to the problems of colonial defense, certainly to be preferred, in Hillhouse’s racialist civil program, to the proliferation of “mulattos.” Hillhouse proposed that colonial funds should be earmarked for “the promotion of intermarriages of the colonists with the Indians,” in view of the defense of the colony. There is evidence that he practiced what he preached and that much of his authority over the coastal tribes derived from family connections made through his Akawaio wife. (Burnett, 101, quoting Menezes).

Instead we have this grotesque, unwashed, unshaven, barefoot figure Todd, whose German sounding name Tot, recalls, according to one critic, the Prussian- American- Virgin Island explorer Schomburgk. Todd’s descent from a Pie Wie mother recalls Hillhouse who married an Akawaio woman (Menzes 101). Todd in the film is once again played by Alec Guinness, who seems to exemplify in every film that beneath it all is the monogenetic imprint of European (he even plays the Brahmin Godbole; the Arab Prince Feisal and now Todd). He is sinister, freakish and a very negative portrayal, slavishly addicted to European literature, and commanding the loyalty of the indigenes all of whose traditional knowledge he has inherited. In theory this could be the ideal mestizo. But in fact, he reverses the sycophantic role, useful in the colonial process of subjugation, that Hillhouse envisions. Hillhouse sees miscegenation as useful, above. Hillhouse and Schomburgk exhibit belittling of Amerindians (Appendix, 254; Burnett 18). The exploration writings of Hillhouse and Schomburgk represented Amerindians as anxious, to emulate European behaviors and styles. Paradoxically, this expectation was made despite a so-called capricious and indolent character in the Amerindians (Burnett 18). Only by manufacturing poverty could Europeans create a market for their manufactured goods while ensuring a steady supply of labor for the colony. Schomburgk echoed the same theme when he wrote that “it would be advisable for his [the Indian’s] advancement in civilization to awaken in him a demand for decent apparel and other comforts of civilized nations, and by exalting him in his own opinion and increasing his self respect, his industry would be called forth to keep up the standing he had acquired.” (105)

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But Todd in the film, is a third alternative. He is lazy and profligate. He is not servile to the Englishman. He can use his blood connection to the indigenous way of life to master all he surveys (a title Burnett gives the explorer Schomburgk). He can cure, ruthlessly poison and imprison. On the resistant side, he can enslave an Englishman to read him Dickens rather than become literate himself and thereby capitulate to the colonizer’s language. He is a new much more threatening version of Caliban. He can use medicines for his own purposes than teach the Englishman (Burnett 32). This is consistent with the paradox shown in the following extracts, that while Schombergk and Hillhouse spoke of the Native Americans in belittling terms, their crucial skills and knowledge were irreplaceable. By contrast, says Burnett: Amerindians led Schomburgk to the Ourali plant and gave him information on the preparation of the poison, information Schomburgk eventually submitted in a paper to the Linnaean Society. Ourali and its uses became a topic of metropolitan chemical, medicinal, and botanical interest. When Schomburgk touted the virtues of medicinal plants in the interior among the resources of the colony in his colonial handbook, it is impossible to conclude that he discovered these uses independently of the native inhabitants. Similarly, the characteristics and the uses of the numerous species of trees to be found in the colony, which made up the subject of another of Schomburgk’s papers for the Linnaean Society, represented knowledge he had acquired among the Amerindians.

Todd’s speech is not a curse, but a placid irony which refuses to admit its diabolical plan. He does not bother to mimic, but embraces his own version of Europeanness, dirty and disheveled, throwing back to them a distorted mirror image. In all the representation of Todd throws the Hillhouse-Schomburgk narrative on its head. So too with the indigenous tribes he surrounds himself with. The film did have the possibility of turning Todd into a figure who reversed the old discourse. But rather, in the narrative of victimization of Tony Last (he is the one who has lost a much loved son, is sick, and is hidden from his friends), Todd can never be any more than the evil figure Waugh presented him as.

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(T)he nature of the colonial panic inscribed in Waugh’s story…is not a fear of ‘going native,’ as (some would argue) in Heart of Darkness, but a terror of being trapped by the irrationalism and barbarism of one who is already half-indigenous: superficially western, but fundamentally other. (Flanery 344)

Flanery speaks about Todd and the Pie wie Indians, specifically the women, whom Todd in the novel calls “ugly but very devoted…Most of the men and women living in this savannah are my children” (qtd. in Flanery 355). In the film, the visual portrayal of the women is negative, while suggesting that they worship him. Literature by way of Dickens— that great civilizing force meant to replace indigenous/colonialism ‘primitivism’ with civilization—becomes demonized. As long as Tony, whom Todd has at gunpoint, keeps reading Dickens to him as a shaman would recite a mantra to the tribe, Todd feels certain exoneration from the atrocities (both explicit and implicit) he has committed while living with the Pie wie. But, according to Nicholas Shakespeare, Waugh goes beyond this, in that ‘He spares no one: Jews, blacks, Americans, and least of all his fellow Englishman’ (qtd. in Flanery 346). Another critic Jerome Meckier goes into a critique of imperialist literature by correlating the uselessness of Dickens’s “secularized Christianity” with the deterioration of “Kurtz’s (w)estern ideals” (Meckier 172). In a reversal of roles, Tony is to Todd what Kip is to Almásy in The English Patient . Tony and Kip are bearers of culture, Almasy and Todd need them as lifelines, one literal, one literary. The arrogance displayed by Almásy who assumes he knows more about India than Kip, the Indian, is matched by Tod’s arrogance in using Tony as his slave, as if he has no role but to read Dickens. All this “civilizing” produces nothing more than a pretense, it does nothing in creating any associative links, any lessons that can be learned. The use of Dickens is only shown in the library as a legacy from his Barbadian father, thus indicating a double colonization, both West Indies and Amazon. We may turn to the three instances where Meckier’s thesis is first stated, then restated twice: “…parallels between Tony’s plight in the jungle and the victimizations that drove him away from England persist not as proof of Dickens’s prognostic powers but as a reminder of the failure of humanism” (176). Then, shortly thereafter: “Tony peruses Boz but relives Heart of Darkness ” (181). And,

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finally: “By contrast (and by this Meckier means Marlow now “armed with Kurtz’s vision”), Tony finds no satisfying divulgence (but)…must become and remain Todd’s voice, not a medium to transmit potent messages but a mouthpiece through whom is broadcast the stale humanism of Victorian fiction” (185). Attempts at intimacy with the “other” coupled with a spectacular display of hatred and violence is the quintessential colonial pathology. Sharif el Gammal calls this ‘inimical amputating’: amputation indicates the intimate connection between inuring oneself to empathy with the other, hatred of the other as well as a deadening of all possible connection. Meckier sets the stage for this existential nightmare by alluding to classics of the split: Dante, Kafka, Conrad, and yes, Dickens, in his reading of Waugh. Does the film do a good job of conveying critical/theoretical perspectives such as in the above analyses, that emphasizes the problem of intimacy across colonial divides? The film is able to show both the appeal and the aloneness of the other. Yet the cinema medium, the choice of actors, mitigates the severity of colonial misunderstanding. In A Passage to India, (29) Aziz, played by Victor Banerjee is genial and likeable, and so the films message on the inscrutability of races to each other, works in his favor. In A Handful of Dust however, the Englishman Pie Wie played by Alec Guinness, is portrayed as unkempt, an ugly combination of races, and sinister. The theoretical perspectives discussed above are borne out. The critical perspectives suggested above bring up the question of literacy and orality. In Passage to India the echo, Boum, the songs at the trial as well as during the puja, point to an auditory universe as contrasted to the literate universe of the colonial state. Similarly, in Handful of Dust the illiterate Todd wishes to imbibe the novels of Dickens through the voice of Tony Last (Fig. 5.3). He is able to participate in the incantatory rites of the Pie Wie Indians, but that universe is devalued in the cinematography of the text. Finally, the film highlights the absent/comical Bridge party attendees Indian woman in Passage to India and the absent or ridiculous indigenous women, with whom have been fathered innumerable children by the mad Todd.

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Fig. 5.3 Reading Dickens in the Amazon. Handful of Dust (1988)

Appendix 1 Graham Burnett extracts from: Schomburgk, “Fragments of Indo-American Traditions.” The loss of the craft is also narrated in Journals of the Royal Geographical Society—JRGS 6: 280. The following appendixes selected from Burnett, verbatim—with the journal article page referred to in square brackets and Schomburgk’s own writings in parenthesis. On Cassava bread: ‘The much-mythologized foray into the terra incognita of the Guianas depended entirely on the unglamorous, oversized pancake called cassava bread, the staple diet of explorer and crew alike. The narratives of interior expeditions sometimes read as journeys from cassava transaction to cassava transaction. In a part of one of his accounts (edited before publication by the RGS), Schomburgk pointed out his dependence on the ability and willingness of the native inhabitants to provide cassava. The difficulty of travel in the interior of British Guiana, he wrote, was that

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“weeks, nay, months may elapse sometimes before a human habitation is met with where the stock of provisions may be replenished.” (Burnett, quoting Schomburgk) Hillhouse warned prospective travelers that “it is absolutely necessary to start with at least one cwt (hundredweight) of cassava bread, well dried, as it is a chance if any more can be procured for a week afterwards” (Burnett Quoting Hillhouse). Encounter with an Amerindian settlement meant that the expedition could replenish its stock of provisions, and this meant that several days would be spent in the settlement while the inhabitants made trips to their provision fields and the women began the laborious process of grating and pressing the cassava root and preparing the rounds of bread. The scene is repeated regularly in the journey [End Page 28] narratives: a greeting, a negotiation through an interpreter, and then the expedition pitches camp near the settlement to await the preparation of provisions, using the stop to collect botanical specimens, observe local activities, or take astronomical positions. A typical scene took place at the Taruma village on the Essequibo where Schomburgk and his party arrived on February 20, 1838: “We arrived in the afternoon at two Taruma settlements, one on the left bank and one on the right of the river Essequibo. We had there to replenish our provisions as the small size of our boats did …not allow us to provide for more than 4 or 5 days.”

Appendix 2 Source: Graham Burnett On the explorers’ dependence on Amerindians: “S and H did a certain kind of colonial work, narrowly shaping the histories and characters of indigenous people to conform to the needs of the colony. A close look at the role played by Amerindians in geographical exploration itself casts the incongruities of this depiction into high relief. In this section I examine how Amerindians participated in these geographical explorations in the interior in order to demonstrate that the written accounts of the expeditions largely obscured the real fragility and dependence of the European explorer. Not only did Amerindians provide the physical labor needed to paddle, portage, and hoist expedition corals up the stiff currents and stony rapids of Guyanese rivers, they also provisioned the expeditions with their knowledge of hunting and fishing and by their hospitality in providing staple foods from interior settlements.

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Native expertise, leadership, and geographical knowledge not only shaped the direction of particular incursions and parted the veil of a seemingly impenetrable wilderness but also provided the special knowledge later appropriated by interior explorers and transferred into scientific and colonial enterprises. Schomburgk’s “leadership” of the expedition was further undermined by his near-total dependence on indigenous guides. The Amerindians were the memory and map of the land. The only way that Schomburgk and Hillhouse could be sure that they were in true terra incognita was to be assured by the local people that no white person had ever been where they were. The only way to do geography was to link place names with locations, and the only way to learn place names was to ask. As a rule, Schomburgk only indulged in onomastic coinages when he understood a site to have no local name. More important, the only way Schomburgk could find his way to the sources of the Essequibo was to keep asking at every fork, branch, and creek, “Which way is the Essequibo?” Neither Schomburgk nor Hillhouse ever actually recorded himself asking questions like these, but they did both record the necessity and (complexities) of depending on local guides. In 1835 the lieutenant governor wrote to the RGS to explain that Schomburgk would need to work with the natives if he were to have any success as a geographical explorer, writing, “The more remote tribes will expect and demand presents; without these, he is unable to deal harmoniously with them and I am afraid he will never be able to get on.” Not “getting on” with the local guides stymied Schomburgk’s expensive expedition up the Corentyn, a journey that he desperately wanted to succeed in order to appease his RGS sponsors, who were becoming impatient for him to find some terra that was actually incognita. When his guides told him that the cataracts they encountered could not be rounded until the rainy season, Schomburgk was forced to pack up for the coast. Only later did he discover that his guides had fibbed in order to keep him from disturbing their slaving territory. Again and again in his journey narratives Schomburgk dismissed his guides as “stupid” or “sullen” and unhelpful, but this merely distracts the reader from the fact that they had gotten him to where he was and were his only hope of getting where he thought he was going, knowing that he was there when he arrived, and getting back again. In addition, Amerindians connected the expedition to the coast and provided the only way for Schomburgk to send progress reports to London during the course of his explorations,

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some of which lasted for more than a year. This vital Amerindian service is again obscured by a language of triviality: “Our people bartered for several of their commodities and [illegible] in exchange for knives and scissors, and after I soothed him and his wife with some trifling presents, he promised to take care of some letters to the colony.” [End Page 30] Irregularly, in marginal or unpublished passages, we catch glimpses of the critical role played by the guide. “We met two Wapisanas,” Schomburgk wrote in a passage deleted from a published account, “who had been sent out by our advance party to show us the way, which became rather intricate.” “Only Indians could have guided us” on the path. “If it had not been for the chieftain, who walked before us and searched out the shallowest places to ford the torrent, we might have met with serious accident.” On the paths of the numerous portages, through the jungle to the sites where Schomburgk and Hillhouse collected their botanical specimens, we must suppose that Amerindians walked ahead and the explorer followed. The guide and his special geographical knowledge were just one aspect of the “geographical gift” that formed part of the exchange of the contact zone. Hillhouse’s guide and pilot received a flintlock gun in addition to other payments for his work conducting the expedition up the Mazaruni. When Schomburgk sat down among the “Pianoghottos” (Farakoto) on his way overland back to the Corentyn in 1843, the exchange involved food and information. After they had presented “sugar cane, pine-apples and cashews (Anacardium occidentale)” and some newmade bread, for which Schomburgk exchanged glass beads and fishhooks, the explorer quickly “directed inquiries towards the continuation of our route.” The expedition made its way by constant recourse to local knowledge, including the direction of routes, the character of inhabitants, and the possibilities of supply. Schomburgk would “halt, and collect every information with regard to the south ‘Eastern’ course of the Essequibo,” as he made his first expedition, but this allusion to the dependence on local knowledge was edited out of the published journal account. In another passage that does not appear in the published accounts of the journeys, an Amerindian elder traced on the ground a map, “remarkable in many respects,” which Schomburgk copied and sent back to the RGS. Not only did local knowledge physically shape the interior expedition, it also delimited the temporal boundaries of the penetration. The Amerindians could predict the rainy season with great accuracy from the

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behavior of turtles and winged ants, and the arrival of the rainy season coincided with the end of the season of expedition. Both Hillhouse and Schomburgk relied on the Amerindians’ geographical knowledge not simply to figure out where to go and how to get there, but also to make determinations concerning colonial reconnaissance. The fertility of Amerindian provision fields indicated the suitability of the land for colonization and offered evidence concerning the appropriateness of particular crops. Hillhouse began his explorations of the interior because of his realization that native cultivars of various crops might usefully be transferred to coastal plantations. He also drew on local [End Page 31] knowledge of freshwater sources to determine the suitability of areas for settlement. The portages that Amerindians showed Schomburgk shaped his later (shelved) proposals for a system of canals to connect the rivers of the interior. Schomburgk even traded for fruit seeds to take back and transplant on the colonial coast, and beyond, at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Those aspects of the exploration that most explicitly sought to participate in the discourse of metropolitan science relied to a significant degree on native knowledge as well. Perhaps the best examples of investigations that were entirely dependent on the participation of the Amerindians were the two explorers’ [End Page 32] ichthyologies. Not only did “an old Indian chief” provide Hillhouse with the life cycle of the pacu (which enabled him to make the fish an instrument of colonial geography and expedition navigation), but the entire process of catching and collecting the specimens relied on the Amerindians, who used the extract of a toxic root (Hai-arry) to poison pools of water and bring all of the fish to the surface. This technique allowed the naturalist to examine the distribution of particular species along the river, information, as we have seen, with broader geographical implications. Hai-arry root not only provided ichthyologists with detailed accounts of the river fish of Guiana, it also provided information to the colony concerning the resources of its fisheries and contributed to an understanding of its broader geographical contours. Hillhouse recommended that the explorer always carry some in order to be able to provision his expedition if the need arose. [End Page 131] Entangled in a bundle of muddy roots were colonial reconnaissance, scientific investigation, and expedition survival. A Hai-iarry fishing expedition featured prominently on the title page of Schomburgk’s book for the Naturalist’s Library.

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….. Amerindians were by no means passive or childlike witnesses of geographical exploration in the interior of British Guiana. Close attention to the written production of those expeditions (and its omissions) reveals that the depiction of the Amerindian as fragile and dependent on European agency misrepresented the relationship that emerged in the contact zone. Amerindian identity may have been constructed for European readers by the written production of the interior exploration, but the Amerindian substantially constructed the expedition itself. This article has shown how geographical explorations alloyed science and colonialism in a project to extend metropolitan territory and enmesh foreign people in metropolitan commerce. I have tried to explain how geographical explorers actually made their way into the forbidding interior of a tropical region in order to chart, name, and appropriate. I have also shown how those same men emerged to write the expedition, the land, and the people for colonial and metropolitan consumption. Examining how Hillhouse and Schomburgk represented the Amerindian has demonstrated how expedition writing did a certain kind of colonial work, narrowly shaping the histories and characters of indigenous people to conform to the needs of the colony. Still closer examination of that writing provided dramatic evidence that this work involved minimizing Amerindian knowledge and power in an effort to reflect the superiority of the European and [End Page 33] to validate the virtue of the colonial project. Reconstructing the role of the Amerindian in the practice of expedition, in the acquisition of geographical knowledge, and in the “discoveries” of natural history not only points to patterns in the work of the explorer/authors who worked in the colonial context in the mid-nineteenth century, it also gives us a better understanding of the relationship between science and imperialism in the period. [End Page 34]

Appendix 3 Belittling of Amerindians: “They were indolent, sought a life of pleasure, behaved irresponsibly, and liked to tease. In the written accounts of expeditions, the Amerindian emerged as fascinated by curiosities: a compass, a fork, or the music box that Schomburgk played for them at a marionette show he mounted on the shore of the Corentyn. They played flutes that recalled toy quill whistles to “those who allow their imagination to carry them back to their

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childhood.” Their willingness to accept in trade what Schomburgk and Hillhouse considered “trifles” reinforced their apparent lack of any sense of value. Liberality with trinkets like glass beads and looking glasses “won their hearts,” and a bag of baubles could buy months’ worth of provisions. The labor of five or six days on a cassava grater might be exchanged “for a common knife,” because the American Indians appeared to possess no concept of the value of time. The Amerindian was capricious and lacked the notions of value and exchange which were to be expected of an adult. Like a child who demands prodding to be happy, the native had been “spoiled” by the distribution of “gifts,” gifts like those provided by the explorers. However, the servile attitudes of the Native Americans (Pie Wie) in the film is prefigured by the distinctions: Amerindian imitations of European manners like handshaking were represented in narratives of expeditions as a pantomime: entire settlements would clamor, in Schomburgk’s account, to shake his hand. More seriously “ridiculous” were Amerindian “superstitions,” which Hillhouse dismissed as “nearly as absurd and obscene as the mythology of the Hindus.”

CHAPTER 6

The East and Love in the Time of Decolonization

A different kind of romance animates Indochine and Heat and Dust . The films were released in 1992 and 1983, respectively. Indochine was directed by Régis Wargnier and produced by Eric Heumann, Jean Labadie and produced by Paradis Films, Bac Films, Orly Films, Ciné Cinq. Heat and Dust based on novel (1975) by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala; film adaption (1983) directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. Merchant Ivory Productions. Indochine won the best Foreign Language Film by the American Academy; though not technically Hollywood it won recognition and in that sense may be included in cinema depicting a dominant ideology signified by my term ‘Hollywood’ (see Shohat and Stam, Chapter 1). Both reflect a nostalgic look at Empire—the British in India and the French in Indochina. This backward look is indicated in the form both movies take. Both are narrations of the past, one by Eliane De Vries to her grandson Etienne about his parents’ history in Indochina in the Thirties; and the other excavated by Anne, about her grandmother Olivia in the 1920s in the fictional town of Satipur, India. The periods recollected would be the climax as well as the waning embers of the British Raj in India and the French Empire in South East Asia. The texts in my selection have probed the dialectic between the romantic seductions of films set in the East and the sinister political messages of domination they disguise. All the films portray awe-inspiring landscapes, enticing relationships, seductive sequences, colorful costumes, © The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_6

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bustling markets and streets, and glorious pageantry. In the gendered progression of the texts, lone men in exotic locations—the soldiers in Gunga Din, the gem hunters/suspects/owners in The Moonstone; the desert-hero Lawrence, The English Patient Almasy—give way in later chapters to the men and women—Tony Last, Adela Quested, Ronny Heaslop—whose crumbling emotional life and marriages are juxtaposed with the threatening tropics. In this final duo, colonizer women come into their own, going the next step: establishing intimacy across the racial divide. Keeping the focus on the romantic idea that close relationships are possible despite political differences, I look at select scenes in both films. Heat and Dust has two frames, the contemporary frame where also, interracial love is hinted at, and the 1920s frame where maharajas and Englishwomen mingle. The social background probed is that of the maharaja in British colonial times, the only figure to whom respect was awarded. Yet the fear of such liaisons had a socio-historical presence in the literature of the period. In the last chapter, the types of romance, i.e., the romance themes, exemplify the following lines from Tennyson: ‘But may not a girl’s love dream have too much in it to be realized all at once?’ (Saunders, Companion to Romance, 321.) Both films are impelled by the unfulfilled longings of a woman, but in the backdrop of the English romantic adventure overseas. Brenda Last’s dreams, though confined to modern London, are a counterpoint to the unlimited possibilities Edwardian men claim for themselves. Adela Quested confronts Empire more directly, and her romantic dream is shattered too. That both texts follow romantic dreams of escape to spaces of the ‘primitive’ in the Marabar caves and the Pie Wie colony even while noting wistfully the waning of the age of exploration, is significant to the double movement I am tracing in the ‘Hollywood Eastern.’ The first scene in Indochine begins with the femme fatale, Eliane Devries, whipping a coolie. The image of a powerful woman is reminiscent of Rider Haggard and others who demonstrate anxiety about female power (Saunders 409, 412). A powerful woman of European extraction, in the colonies, and a figure of power with the ‘natives’ exemplifies a trend of questioning and complicating ‘a fixed imperial subject embodied in the European male’ (Saunders 414). Here in French colonial Indochina, Éliane Devries, single, privileged, owns and runs a large rubber plantation with her father. They employ indentured laborers, whom she calls

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her coolies. The first scene, where she whips the coolie, is followed by several, which fix her position. At the end of the 1910s, she adopts a young girl from the Nguy˜ên Dynasty named Camille, after her parents die in a plane crash. Although Éliane is courted by the head of the French security services in Indochina, she refuses him, and she raises and educates Camille alone as a privileged European until her teens. The second sequence of encounters exemplifies both the colonial and the romantic. Participating in colonial sports, Eliane wins a wager against the Naval commander’s boating team. There she meets a young lieutenant in the French Navy, Jean-Baptiste Le Guen. Later they bid for the same painting at an auction, and their exchange suggests certain themes suggestive of both romance and colonial arrogance. They connect as expatriates proud of French culture and anxious to preserve it in the colonies, but also as a pair getting together on the romance of waning imperialism (see Jones, in Saunders, 407). This waning may be seen as part of the disjuncture of French modernity. Elaine seeks to be both dictator and savior, as Jean-Baptiste seeks to be both keeper of the peace, initially, and later romantic lover of Indochina. When they meet at the auction, she is taken off guard when he challenges her publicly. Soon after they have an altercation at her plantation as he confronts her for sheltering the boy whose sampan he set ablaze for suspicion of opium smuggling. In Indochine, the imperial allegory has a gendered thrust. Eliane de Vries is an unusual colonial figure, because she is female, powerful, single, and sexually compelling. Women in the colonies had certain roles—to deflect Frenchmen away from the ‘native’ mistresses or ‘congai,’ to establish family life in the colonies, and to exemplify a European ideal of womanhood which would ensure European dominance. There have been several perspectives in this regard recently summarized by Ravi (74–82). She disagrees with those who read de Vries as a figure of matriarchal colonial stature, based on her impeccable style, her power in the plantation and assumption of a stern, punishing motherly colonial role, by pointing out the features in de Vries that countered the manuals circulating at the time about the ideal colonial woman. Other critics have seen the colonial woman (rather than the man) as figure of authority somehow exonerating colonialism (Murray 235–244). In the trajectory I have been tracing however, the focus is not so much on whether colonialism is exonerated, so much as about how Europe’s own gender changes enmesh with colonial othering.

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There was a contradiction in the expectations for colonial women, French or British, that reverberated with their location in the East. On the one hand, location in the East placed them in a strange position which further stereotyped the East. They were to be free women from a free culture in a place which supposedly suppressed its women, the latter being one of the reasons why European presence was justified there. At the same time, in the case of Victorian women their own society’s repressions dogged them there. Being in Indochina or India gave these women a uniqueness they would not have in their own culture. Mannoni (Prospero and Caliban) has theorized the colonial male psychoanalytically, saying that the inferiority-conscious European male makes way to the colonies and finds distinction there; the same is true of these women. Eliane and Olivia have very few English or French women to compare themselves to. They dominate the few who are there, through their sophistication and beauty; but its also true that the competition is not too much. The other European women are represented in less than flattering terms. Eliane’s only competitor is her own daughter, Camille. These issues are highlighted in scenes in both films where the women are in the company of the exotic East. There is the scene where Eliane is with Tanh’s mother, an Annam aristocrat. There we see the flowing beautiful clothes, the traditional objets d’art and other reminders of the culture prior to European arrival. Yet it is clear that the local royalty stands to gain from allying themselves to Europeans. Thus, it is that the friends of Eliane, the royal parents of Camille, have left her to Eliane for her upbringing. In Camille’s upbringing, we see very little of her Vietnamese royal birth. She has a French name, dresses in Western clothes and in a memorable scene, is taught ballroom dancing by Eliane. In that scene, Eliane tells her that her (Eliane’s) heart is Asian, she prefers to eat a mango than an apple. But the film itself begs the question of what transcultural identity entails. What are the latent and manifest aspects of identity? Where do cultures mingle and stay separate especially when the relation is a colonial one? Does the film succeed in representing a real Orient or is it an exoticized one, seen entirely from Eliane’s perspective? We may approach the film through the trope of motherhood, European or Asian. One way of assessing the status of this ‘Eastern,’ not a Hollywood ‘Eastern,’ but placed here to provide perspective, is through the trope of motherhood. In the very first scene, we see Eliane whipping a worker on the rubber plantations, even as she calls herself his mother.

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In the very last scene, Camille’s son Etienne declares that Eliane is the only mother he knows. The ambiguous history Eliane has with Camille, is a lens through which one can see the East. Among the distinctions between cultures, a vexed one even today, are the standards of parenting, the relative role given to intimacy, to discipline, to the promoting of either self-reliance or the capacity for affection. These questions weave into the political situation in Indochine as well. The Communists, who believe in ending peasant suffering through violent action against the colonizer even if it means separation from the family in the larger cause of universal love, are at one extreme. The colonial mother exemplified in Eliane, who seeks to punish her children in the name of love, but seems to keep self-interest, even the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure first, is at another extreme. The whipping scene introduces for the Asian viewer, a strange prelude to Eliane’s mothering scenes. How is it possible one wonders, to be so brutal to the rubber coolies and so loving to Camille? The racial disconnect that must enable the whippings, is clearly dispelled by class affinity. The same disconnect, this time across race, is visible in her initial dealings with the young naval officer. She patronizes him during the art auction and speaks autocratically to him later. But sexually she becomes vulnerable to his charms. Eliane’s gendered subservience, despite all her sophistication, is connected to the themes I have been investigating in the ‘Eastern.’ While Westerns often save white women from a violent fate at the hands of ‘the savage,’ ‘Easterns’ generally have more problematic roles for women than mere victim. I have tracked this in the chapter in Passage. Indochine is unique in focusing on the figure of the native woman, but unlike novels like Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (1955), it is a more complex representation. Camille is aristocracy raised by a colonizing foster mother turned revolutionary. In between she is engaged to a fellow native aristocrat from her own culture, then wife to a military arm of the colonial establishment, and finally revolutionary but absentee mother to her Eurasian child. I read her as a symbol of the evolving complexity of the ‘Eastern,’ which by the early nineties, has eclipsed the Romance of the East as an experience only open to Europeans. Part of the interest throughout has been to engage with the genre of cinema, to unravel the meanings that viewers gain from the visual spectacle on screen. The communication between film and viewer is immediate, but because of the many layered ability of the human mind,

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a myriad possibilities of interpretation jostle with each other, leaving however one overarching impression for each viewer. Not all viewers read the same way, but the premise here is that Hollywood and other filmmakers reinforce certain generic expectations (derived from genres like the Western) in the Hollywood ‘Eastern.’ For viewers who respond as expected, with an overwhelming ‘us versus them’ response, the film’s stereotypical portrayals convince. A classic example of the extreme Hollywood ‘Eastern’ is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which I have discussed at length in the opening chapter to show how low the genre can go. It takes the viewer outside of the ideological constituency presupposed by the filmmakers. This constituency is already split by factors like race and gender. Thus, the Asian viewer might see things the European viewer may not. I propose to look at a few scenes by setting off the two perspectives against each other. Many critiques of the film have referred to nostalgia as a sentiment evoked by the film (Murray 235–244). The nostalgia would be a romantic nostalgia for a period when French and affluent Vietnamese could live together in mutual affection, both exploitative of the poor. Unlike Passage to India or Handful of Dust , here the colonizing figure is gracious and sophisticated and the ‘natives’ of certain status friendly and co-operative. For those nostalgic for Empire, the first few scenes are ambiguous. The rubber plantation is the site of a whipping, yet soon we see a scene in the de Vries home, where the old father caresses a congai—concubine— young enough to be his granddaughter. Indeed, the physical resemblance between the two at first sight is remarkable. This may create in a viewer skeptical of Empire the sense that Camille herself has prostituted herself to French colonial stewardship. This connotative effect of the scene adds to the sense of exploitation that a denotative reading of the Senior de Vrais with the young congai suggests. The exploitative atmosphere is further reinforced by the tolerance of the whole group to the old man’s lecherousness. Eliane, unexpectedly, doesn’t seem to mind, nor do the other women working there. They protest against this particular congai but not the concept of the congai herself. The congai functions as a sign for the native woman, that sets Camille in relief; as such the congai figure denotes her actual status as a courtesan but connotes the larger exploitation of the land by the rubber planters. But this exploitation is naturalized, especially for the metropolitan viewer, as the inevitable readiness of the people to be thus exploited. The women, gossiping about which congai is better, seem petty and subservient and

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really ushered into a greater, more cultured society by the presence of the de Vries’s. Very soon we see Eliane in a scene alone with Camille and in the ballroom scene. Camille dresses in the French manner and it is difficult for the viewer to determine where her affiliations lie. The music played is evocative too. Eliane’s eastern clothing yet ease in Western dance conveys her easy, at-home-ness in both cultures, in contrast to Camille’s culturally anonymous clothing, where her phenotypical appearance belies her Western clothing. Eliane leads the dance, Camille follows, but the two are physically very affectionate, with Camille acting very happy, in contrast to her serious expressions later in the film. The first household scene sets the stage, the dance scene consolidates it, leaving both sets of viewers, the targeted viewer and the resistant one, with enigmatic questions. One of these is the exact nature of the relationship between Eliane and Camille, whether it is patronizing or truly maternal. The next scene, which in narrative terms would be a disruption to the equilibrium of the mother–daughter duo, enters in the shape of a young naval officer (The Language of Film, 51). The first disruption occurs when the mother figure Eliane, takes up with the young officer, because it introduces a third into the dyad of mother–daughter, situation Eliane in a more permissive world than a traditional Annamite mother. Earlier, we have seen the tolerance with which she regards her father’s young congai. A dichotomy or antithesis is established (cf. Barthes symbolic code, 28– 29) with our expectations for Asian mothers, taking Eliane outside of the circle of trust she has tried to evoke in the ballroom scene. The disruption is further intensified in the scene where Camille is introduced to the the naval officer for the first time. The line of schoolgirls on a street, in uniform, suggests an intertextual reference to the cartoon Madeleine, familiar to young readers the world over: French schoolgirls marching in line led by Miss Clavell. Madeleine suggests the quintessential French schoolgirl, transported here to the colonies. The viewer might implicitly note either the disjuncture from or the mimicry of the original. The childlike scene is however cruelly interrupted by a prisoner escaping a line of security, getting shot, and falling on Camille. A French schoolgirl with her screams, and aligns herself momentarily with Camille. Both are French at that moment, as opposed to the Vietnamese prisoner. The naval officer Jean-Baptiste saves Camille. The close-up of his face with hers establishes an intimacy, and

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Fig. 6.1 The Party. Indochine (1992)

the blood (incidentally, not Camille’s but the prisoners) connects them in a way that Camille has not been connected to her foster mother, Eliane. In the party scene, one of the tropes throughout, a kind of Bridge Party where colonizer and colonized meet in social intercourse, Eliane and Camille dance once again (Fig. 6.1). A polyglot crowd, Sikh, Vietnamese (Indochinese) is visible and the camera scans the group. Suddenly Jean-Baptiste appears, Camille whose view of him the camera follows, moves to be with him. Assilines stops her, then dances with her. He is the face of colonial police. Eliane has an altercation with Jean-Baptiste, then slaps him as Camille watches terrified. The situational reaction would revolve around both Camille and Eliane. To the viewer positioned postcolonially, Camille might seem like the Westernized ‘native’ woman caught between two oppressors, the white woman and the white man, subservient to both and something of a puppet between them. But to the ideal Hollywood style mainstream viewer, the situation has all the seductions of romance. Camille and Jean-Baptiste love each other despite the politics they are caught in. Eliane is more like a wicked stepmother thwarting their love. They overcome obstacles such as Camille’s engagement to Tranh, Jean-Baptiste’s navy job, and Eliane’s hostility to him. They flee, eventually joining communists for the liberation of Vietnam.

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The romantic theme of flight obscures the persistence of Eliane in the story, and the ultimate tragedy of the romantic story. Not only do the radicals themselves possibly kill Jean-Baptiste, Eliane ends up with the child, but not before Jean-Baptiste baptizes the child, signaling the victory of Christianity. She is able to excuse her father for his colonizer’s prerogative over native women young enough to be his daughter yet cannot forgive Jean-Baptiste’s love for Camille. Her wry comment: “She is irresistible” suggests an almost stepmotherly resentment albeit disguised as praise. In other words, some of Eliane’s demeanor in the scenes involving JeanBaptiste suggest a rivalry instead of a maternal love for Camille. It remains to analyze the scene when Eliane takes opium. The old servant prepares the dosage, and Elaine takes it. Opium is a substance that is both used by Eliane, prohibited by the French Government and part of her Indochinese subjectivity. It is her alien side, rendering her the decadent mother figure to Camille, while also being exotic for the French. The decadent mother plugs into the romantic fables of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, which place young women in a vulnerable position, to be rescued by the prince in a romantic fairy tale. Exactly thus, Jean-Baptiste happens to be on the scene, and watches the escape and shooting of a Vietnamese prisoner by a French police officer. Quite the French colonial schoolgirls, Camille and her French schoolmates walk in single file, when the escaped prisoner falls on her, knocking her unconscious. She looks wounded, helpless. The Prince Charming Jean-Baptiste aids the damsel in distress, carries her into the safety of an interior, erotically disrobes her in order to clean off the blood, sees her upper body naked, but unhurt. At this point she wakes and falls in her love at first sight with her protector. The incident on the street involving the escaped prisoner is suggestive of the process I am describing. The scene illustrates all of the violence of French presence, the political prisoners kept in chains, the schoolchildren in French uniform, of whom Camille is one, the shooting of the Vietnamese prisoner by police officer, the wailing of the French girl over Camille’s body, covered with the prisoner’s blood, putting Camille and the prisoner on opposite sides. Le Guen enters the scene as a French colonial officer, but leaves as a romantic hero. Camille is covered with blood, as he wipes it off, Camille opens her eyes and falls in love with him. Jean-Baptiste’s transfer to Dragon Island is his punishment for his misbehavior in the dance scene, another important moment in the

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‘Eastern,’ where colonizer and colonized socialize. Every movie discussed contains such a scene. In this scene Elaine forbids Le Guen from seeing Camille, he refuses and in the resulting argument, slaps her. Colonial alignments are disrupted in this melodramatic interlude of romantic rivalry. But Camille is still viewed as an object to be controlled as is Vietnam. In later sections the film continues a dialectic between the polarity between French and Vietnamese, with the latter in a continually abject position. This is indicated by Camille, now committed to Jean-Baptiste connecting with a Vietnamese family enroute to Dragon Island. The family is bound for indenture, which further highlights their victimhood, and the French naval officers shoot at them. They are called congai and labeled communists and Jean-Baptiste when he arrives, takes Camille away. Romantic as their reunion is, it is still viewed with colonial eyes by the naval officers, who see her as a concubine. The congai theme continues. Thus, the incident continues on two registers, the colonial and the romantic. Jean-Baptist’s choice in this scene to be on the other side of the law is a foil to the earlier scene where he shoots at the sampan. The sections where Camille and Jean-Baptiste escape and live without food or water add to the romantic theme of the fugitive couple. The spectacular scenes in the film, of the Gulf of Tonkin, give the story an air of unreality. The mixed character of Jean-Baptiste, at once French chauvinist, avant-garde lover of an older woman in a somewhat sadomasochistic relationship, a conventional romantic lover of Camille, a repressive official, then fugitive, is suggestive. The Hollywood ‘Eastern’ has generally portrayed predictably colonial characters. But Jean-Baptiste’s unpredictability, rather than suggesting a changing figure of colonial authority, actually indicates colonial Europe’s own confusion. Jean-Baptiste’s presence undercuts Camille’s revolutionary role. The fugitive sections are similarly ambiguous. The troupe of performances who are really revolutionaries, is one ambiguity. They accept Jean-Baptiste and camouflage the lovers, but by portraying him as ‘whiteface’ expose his identity. The authorities, working for Guy and Madame de Vries, seek to find and protect the lovers. Camille’s pregnancy raises another ambiguity, that of the child. As Camille and Jean-Baptiste are smuggled into China, being considered more dispensable to the communists than more important figures, this ambiguity leads to a problem. Jean-Baptiste is captured while trying to baptize his son.

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Heat and Dust (1983) and Indochine share the idea of romance that defies politics: in both, the colonized partner is royalty. This in itself reinforces a colonial stereotype expressed by one of the Englishwomen in Passage to India, that the rulers were on an equality only with the royalty. The Native States had cooperated with the rulers, since it suited them. Both aspects have a history: the alliance of kings with the British, as well as the subtext of possessiveness when royalty and Englishwomen became involved (see Balhatchett). As Indian rajas were the only ones who socialized easily with the British, Englishwomen as royal spouses became a dubious possibility, rejected by the zenana. The romantic possibilities of this were exploited in novels. The idea of the single powerful woman who connects with natives, may be viewed as a colonial avatar of the New Woman who is breaking free but clearly into the other camp. While Elaine oscillates between colonizer and colonized, Olivia throws in her lot with the colonized. Several scenes that recur in the genre of the ‘Eastern’ occur here too. There is the pageantry associated with the Empire, only this time we see it deployed in honor of the king. The officials are presented before the ruler of Satipur. The camera adopts the perspective of the women in the zenana, and the characters appear blurred through the curtains. On only one occasion, there is a close-up of the king, when he notices one of the women being presented, Olivia Rivers. The palace scenes are numerous: for viewers this represents the exotic East. The King however, the Raja of Satipur is presented only in relation to his amorous life, and later his dubious dealings with the dacoits. We know early of the Nawab’s reputation with women. Olivia, unperturbed by his history, the new memsahib, also fits into the stock New Woman in the colonies. She is excited by India and by the king. Unlike Adela Quested she, however, does not need to imagine a rape: the erotic connection between her and the raja is established immediately. But while Passage, in both text and film, is sympathetic toward Aziz, and absolves him of any improper desire for Adela, here the king maneuvres his way into Olivia’s life, using as a go-between the Englishman Harry. There are hints of a homoerotic connection: Harry is shown in the company of the women in the zenana, and the king’s attitude to him is indulgent. Harry also shows a measure of irritation at Olivia’s affair with the king. The unsuitability of the King is indicated not just by his love life but also by his association with dacoits. The notorious Thuggee, discussed in

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an earlier chapter was long ended, even in the era represented in Gunga Din, and dacoity hearkens back to that. The common complaint in all the thuggee accounts without exception is that the activity of the thugs seemed to mesh with exasperating ease into existing indigenous networks of wealth and power, since they were supported by zamindars (landowners), Indian princes, law enforcement officials, merchants, and even ordinary farmers. (Roy 126)

Roy quotes Freitag: “among organized criminals the thugs may have been the group most thoroughly embedded in local society” (Freitag 234). Roy continues: “The worship of Kali (also called Devi, or Bhawani) could not easily be coded as an eccentric” (Roy 126). In both films, the interracial love affair at the center of the story, in both cases recounted many years later to a descendant, is set among conflict and misunderstanding between various groups. The British/French colonial bureaucracy, the navy and the plantation owners, the native royalty, and the masses of common people. In each, a commoner, a navy captain, and a collector’s wife becomes involved with a local royal. The plotline in each is the fate of this affair. But the backdrop, the Vietnamese and the Indians are shown as in the previous films, as an undirected mass of people, who rob people, flee or endure miseries. The European character in love, the Frenchman as well as Olivia, are shown as emotional and naive in the ways of the world. Elements of romance occur in the book. There is the element of unconventional love, the escapist role of the colonies for the middle class, childish rather than adult, adultery, waning imperialist values, journeys, encounters with the other (see Jones in Saunders, 407). The representation of the European woman as sexual would be new in this series of films as in the earlier ones, building up from the films in the last two chapters. The colonial ideology that reinforced Victorian mores had desexualized European women while over-sexualizing Indian women (Jones in Saunders, 413). Unlike Indochine, however, the woman is shown in a singularly abject state, by being shut away in the Himalayas after being aided by the zenana women to sacrifice her child. This is a child whose real and symbolic paternity could be either British or Indian, and a symbol for her abjection where the unborn child and henceforth her body needs to be ejected from colonial society. This process exemplifies the Gothic avatar of Romance,

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whereby castles, secret histories of poisoning, rumour, women in thrall, women in shame, and other such ingredients symbolize the repressions on which colonial society depends: A strong strain of Gothic has been identified in the works of Jhabvala, which feature demon lovers, mysterious Indian palaces with intricately concealed secrets, ruined forts, poison, willing victims, and the eroticization of spirituality, with gurus standing in for sinister monks and ashrams for convents. (Sucher 61–66 Quoted by Newman 85–100)

As a critic on romance has said, such ‘romances offer society a mirror in which its ghostly or monstrous aspect is reflected through a process of abjection’ (Saunders 5). Such abjection in Olivia also gives rise to the exile and fugitive state, another aspect of romance, that further gives her the status of a romantic heroine (Saunders 31). However the very features of romance, especially the Gothic, a borrowed European form, involve a downgrading of India (Newman 85–100). Indochine and Heat and Dust continue with the colonial problem/issue of the ‘white woman.’ In the earlier chapter I argued that she is implicated in the discourses about the colonized male. In Mutiny discourses, even as the ‘native male’ is being deemed a ‘subject’ unfit to rule himself, the white woman becomes his victim. The films help in a certain narrative. In the Mutiny it was white female victimhood that haunted the popular Press. The Moonstone displaces that victimhood story on to the diamond itself as it is stolen, changes hands, etc. In the Edwardian period, as in Handful of Dust , the New Woman exists in disjunctive relation to the tropics. But in Heat and Dust , she has begun to adapt. Olivia is uninhibited and friendly, at least with the king. The Indian characters are presented on their own terms and not as colonial caricatures, this reflects the fact that Ruth Jhabvala was more familiar with postcolonial India. Both Heat and Dust and Indochine represent, in film, bifurcated spaces that ‘place’ European women in a more positive relation to the tropics. In involves moving the woman to a position of intimacy as well as power. How may this be contextualized? The withdrawal of the French from the Empire was a process where cultural and political were at cross purposes. French colonial elites had befriended local monarchies. The woman is in allegorical relation to culture. Elaine de Vries is divided between the New Woman and the colonial mother. She is seen drinking,

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and has an affair with a much younger man. In the whipping scene, she is a colonial mother, in the scene fighting with the naval officer, she is the colonial mother. In the Auction scene, she is a cultural guardian, in the dancing scene, a colonial mother. In the love scene in her townhouse, she is a new woman, while taking opium she is a colonial expatriate, finally in the scene with Etienne, Camille’s son, she is a colonial mother. To conclude, the fairy tale romantic elements: the kiss of life given by a Prince, the domineering older woman all add to the space of Indochina being a romantically unreal place, more revelatory of the place of the East in the Occidental imagination. It is still a place of innocent princesses, controlling mothers, wild emotions in “the people,” ritualized cathartic events like the theater troupe’s enacting Camille and Jean-Baptiste’s story. All of these, as I have discussed above, help present Indochine as an unreal place, no more than a theater of primal, fabular emotions. Its locales and peoples are so connected to the colonial psyche, that a real complex place does not emerge. Marouf Hasian, Jr. and Helene A. Shugart “read Indochine as example of ‘melancholic nostalgia,’ where key archetypes and romantic relationships are used as allegories for colonial and postcolonial relations, both historical and potential” (Hasian and Shugart 330). Main “archetypes” include Devries, Camille, Jean-Baptiste, and Etienne. After giving a broad sweep of prior scholarship and articulating the concept of melancholia in Freud, they note that there needs to be a wider, more ambitious study of colonialism, one that sees the film as a “celluloid construct” (330). This might be leading to a potentially more progressive reading. Using psychoanalysis and Marxist historicism as theoretical groundings to their reading of the film, the author’s articulation of the use of Vietnamese rather than French actors decolonizes the complexities of othering (331). They define ‘(m)elancholic’ nostalgia as both an ‘individual and collective mourning,’ and this is a process meant to be “worked through” instead of “mastered” (332). Assimilation further complicates the dynamic, and Indochine doesn’t center the action around political events, but rather, creates “textured good feelings by colonial traditions” (333–334). Those archetypal characters function to romanticize and rationalize colonialism (334). Hasian, Jr. and Shugart create the following character binaries: Asselin/Devries, Devries/Jean-Baptiste, and Jean-Baptiste/Camille. They call these relationships “competing melancholic romances” that evoke ambiguity (343). Etienne, the interracial character produced by the

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French/Indochinese binary, becomes a synthesis of those entanglements and therefore a symbol of the new and future Vietnam (343). In other words, because Etienne is looked upon favorably by the authors, he is the key to unlocking all Manichean, simplistic/essentialist notions of the France/Indochina dialectic. Saying that Devries is to Camille what France is to Indochina is correct (339), but given the “protean nature of collective remembering and forgetting” (344), the process(es) that shape colonial and postcolonial constructs is far more complex. Etienne is a testament to that complexity. So, toward the end, the thesis is restated thus, and that, more succinctly: “The trajectory of the film invites readers (and viewers) to contemplate the possibility that new forms of recolonization or neo-colonization exist in some mythic renegotiated future” (345). This article may be useful to a critical viewer of the film. The film hearkens to the future, connecting races rather than separating them, through romantic love, through adoption, through concubinage. But the terms of this connection are still colonial.

CHAPTER 7

Conclusion

The Global Eastern I conclude with a section on the Eastern in today’s Global Cinema. I will be reading three films released in the new Millennium, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Bride and Prejudice (dir. Gurinder Chadha), and the most recent version of Dirty Dancing, Havana Nights . I ask how Global Culture informs the film, through the portrayal of new Economies, the war in the Middle East and the different representations of the Arab world, infused both by oil issues and terrorism. The film is thereby compared to Lawrence of Arabia (the sixties) and The English Patient (the nineties), the chapter on both of which features the role of the desert in the Oriental film imaginary. In Bride, the global hotel industry, the South Asian marriage market, and love and courtship in the age of globalization inform the film. Finally in Dirty Dancing, the theme of dance as a marker of modernity, country club culture versus urban Latin couple dance/club culture are investigated against the background of Castro’s revolution in Cuba. The second theme, of European conjugal problems being transposed on to an Eastern landscape, also provides one of the motifs in the ‘Hollywood Eastern.’ Echoes of Passage to India, A Handful of Dust and Heat and Dust , are investigated. The geographic and ideological representation of the East, i.e., Orientalism, constitutes the third strand of analysis. As in the other chapters, conventions of Romance and their masking of covert strategies of power, are explored. © The Author(s) 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8_7

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Several themes plotting the intersection of romance and power in the ‘Hollywood Eastern’ recur in the films that have surfaced in the era after colonialism. The slow subsiding of Raj Nostalgia coincided with new trends like global migration, oil money, the professionalization of women, globalization of business, tourism, and so on. How do these historical realities find their way into popular film within the paradigm I have been uncovering? Salmon Fishing in the Yemen presents a very different picture to that in Lawrence of Arabia. Now the oil rich sheikh wises to change the landscape of his country to mirror Scotland. The salmon jumping, long a much loved attraction in Scottish rivers, are sought to be duplicated in the Yemen. To this end, the Sultan transfers a huge sum of money, managed by a global firm to the UK Govt. The tragic or dysfunctional relation between the sexes in Europe continues as a theme, as in the earlier chapters. Like Brenda Last and Tony, Adela Quested and Ronny, the Scottish fish expert working in a boring job in the fisheries ministry is fast estranged from his wife Mary, an economist on a project at the IMF. The young woman Harriet managing the Fitzharris and Price funds, is a lonely young professional, snatching at fleeting connections with a precariously situated soldier sent to Afghanistan. The Sultan, seemingly an unattached man, with a few wives tucked away, diagnoses their problems and calls the shots. In previous chapters, the following analytic has emerged. The army and war recur in a few films, the desert as locale occurs in a few films, and the East as a place which brings psychic problems to a crisis, occurs in a few. The chapter considers whether the geopolitical relation between West and East has changed in any way, and what the new context for these changed relationships are. The first element is economic investment as exemplified in William Darcy the US tycoon, in Bride and Prejudice wishing to buy a hotel, and technical expertise in Salmon Fishing, advising the Sheikh. Though produced fifty years after Lawrence of Arabia, and twenty years after The English Patient , it is remarkable how Salmon Fishing in the Yemen resonates with the issues discussed in that chapter. The desert, its interaction with more temperate climes in the minds of men and women, the issue of conjugality and love in warm climates, and violence as a backdrop, immediately strike the viewer. But what is remarkable is how the major issues of a post 9–11 world are synchronized in all their multiplicity in one film reflecting a world that has globalized rapidly since the early nineties, to reach one climactic moment of apocalyptic destruction

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in 9/11. These issues are: One, global economic connections buttressed by cross-national technological connections such as consultants from the Chinese Three Gorges Dam; two, a world connected by emails and cell phones, national bureaucracies that become enmeshed in these issues as NATO allies; three, women in positions of power as well as in a global managementocracy of Fitzharris and Price; four, migration within the United Kingdom, Jones from Scotland and the global vacationing of the wealthy Yemeni Sheikh to Scotland; five, the way a distant war impacts ordinary British lives and the danger young men live with everyday; six, the conflict between liberal and fanatical Islam, fisheries unions; election politics: Name it is there. Such bewildering cross-connections create new relationships; however, whether or not the old patterns of representation have changed is a question that relates to cinematography, voice, camera techniques, and the myriad elements that go into the making of a film. The opening scenes switch to the super modern offices of the global management company after the indigo blues and Grampian Greens of Scotland, showing an Arab fishing in the purple lochs. There are outdoor clothes, photographs of fish, a windowed office and email. The golden hues, the red and blue in the minister’s bedroom, the wood panelled office with the black-suited press officer to the Prime Minister, Patricia Maxwell, played by Kristin Scott Thompson. This actress has figured in two other films, The English Patient and A Handful of Dust . There appears to be a progression in the New Woman, from adventurous rich English girl, to bored English housewife seeking cheap thrills to a bossy media woman, who has it all but has turned into a harridan in doing so. We may focus on several conversations that metamorphose in the course of the film. Those between Harriet Chetwold-Talbot and Dr. Jones map this world in rapid strokes. Take the first scene when Jones, the disgruntled inventor/bureaucrat visits the plush offices of the global management company. To him, facilitating the whims of a rich sheikh by attempting a seemingly impossible task of making the Yemen, conventionally thought of as the torrid Middle East, a home for Scottish salmon, seems preposterous. In that scene, Harriet walks in, efficient but likable. The camera handles their conversation with a back and forth movement, emphasizing witty rejoinder and repartee rather than the intimate, ‘friendly’ or ‘mystical’ back-and-forths we have seen so far in the way Brenda Last and Adela Quested relate to their spouses/fiances. However it suggests a new status for women: Harriet’s is not the voice of the spoilt Brenda Last, nor the out of sync Adela Quested, or the obsessive

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Catherine Deneuve in Indochine, while speaking to their lover/husbands. Here the camera catches the sparring between the two. The subsequent exchanges between Harriet and Jones, between Jones and his wife, and between Harriet and her soldier boyfriend, map male–female relations in the post 9/11 era. Relationships are difficult to maintain, between men and women. Jones and his wife attain some measure of harmony only when they play in a band in a church; between her busy job and his discontent, they grow apart; Harriet hardly knows her boyfriend, yet grieving for him is the only real emotion she can allow her ‘gushy’ self in the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture of the British upper class. Both couples apologize to each other a great deal (I am sorry is said very often) to make up for a lack of intimacy. The email exchanges between the POMs Press secretary and her boss, occur online. The woman is bossy, the politician clueless. They recur as motifs in the film, giving us an idea of the mass-mediated world we live in, where press secretaries decide political moves (like the deflecting of attention away from war with media support) to correspond with business decisions (like the money transfer from the sheikh to the firm). The exchanges between Dr. Jones and his boss are bureaucratic. They are also indicative of the current saturation of academia where a committed researcher finds himself in a Government office, caught between a multinational company and the election hungry politicians who call the shots for government work. The Dept of Fisheries and Agriculture is hilarious in its dialogue with the Fishermen’s Union and the Angler. Spaces in the film indicate geopolitics. Further spaces they share, are the balcony-cafe of a new globalizing London where she receives the news of her boyfriend going missing, via a cell phone. We see an ultramodern global London, where much is shown through windows, the Scottish castle where both wear formal clothes offered by a sheikh, her apartment where she deems him with an Asperger’s disorder and finally the location in Yemen. Like the other films the tropical location is some sort of escape from the troubles at home, but it does not release aspects hitherto repressed, nor does it spell destruction. Rather it is part of an evolving relationship where Harriet’s career commitments become the bond linking them. Her commitment to the project help her get over the shock of her lover’s missing in action status. The nature of the project itself I will return to later.

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This brings up Britain’s old imaginary as an island of many coves and inlets, ideal for fishermen, with the fisherman remaining the quintessential Briton. Water, the commodity that is destined to ignite conflict is crucial—fish require it. Yet the most philosophical approach is in the speeches given by the Yemeni, when he speaks about fishing and fishermen: fishermen as global citizens, don’t think of race, color, only the fish—patience, humility, he speaks of faith and fish. Finally the 10,000 live salmon, the 2 million fishermen, “angling” “bassmania” are an influential subtext, suggestive of a ‘native’ British identity that this foreign’ sheikh is attempting to buy and ship elsewhere. Though infused with comedy, there is a message: Hands off our fish! At the same time, the sheikh’s desire to alter geography has profound geopolitical connotations. What does it mean for an arch symbol of the temperate zone, the salmon, to be taken from its native habitat to the territory of the desert other? Is this the reverse of colonialism, where cold countries went to hot ones, transplanted native crops with colonial crops, and took shiploads of gold back home? Here the oil rich ex-colonial is paying 500 million British pounds to take a cold weather fish to his hot country. The ironies need hardly be spelt out. The ease with which Harriet Chetwold Talbot refers to the wadi, speaks Chinese and generally moves around in the space of the other is reflective of the way the “developed” world continues to dominate knowledge of the other, albeit not in a colonial way, where this knowledge is created by the colonizer, but in a more global contemporary sense, where elite schools in Anglo-America and Europe train their young professionals in many of the world’s languages and cultures. This is the better to exploit the conditions of neoliberalism, where money and labor still tend to get transferred to the West via software professionals, the opening of global franchises in Third World countries at exorbitant prices. In addition, in the film, a new kind of fleecing of the colonized rich—an oil rich sheikh no less—is shown. His 50 million dollars transferred in exchange for a technology transfer from the West is for a project useless to his country. But it is romanticized as a new avenue for cultural interaction, as a romantic dream that helps the actors involved in it, as well as a vision of changing geographies. It is man changing Nature, a version of the anthropocene. In more pragmatic political terms as a distraction from war, as a political ploy to win an election, and as a way to celebrate the return of the soldier presumed dead. The negotiations behind the scenes in the British Govt are a kind of blackmail.

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Afghanistan and Yemen are both Middle East, but entirely different cultures and histories: one Pashtun, one Arab, but in the mind of the viewer, exemplified both in the Press Secretary and in the soldier/boyfriend they are the same. A place of ‘dirty’ Arabs, in Fanonian terms. Globalization also means a homogenization of the other. Throughout there is an Anglo yearning for an end to the Middle East problems, but also a desire for mysticism. In this context, the sheikh is given any lines that carry the message of the film. In Scotland he draws parallels between the mystic and the fisherman: fishermen as global citizens don’t think of race, color, only the fish—patience, humility. He speaks of faith and fish. While both Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Bride and Prejudice are entertaining films, both acquire a different meaning when framed by the context of this study. We encounter some new types: the soldier, the fortune-hunter, the rebel turned savior hero, the mapmaker, the explorer, the assimilated female, both as power figure and as mistress are now replaced by the ‘expert,’ the woman manager and the real estate investor in Jones, Chetwold-Talbot and Darcy. These roles demarcate the postindependence world picture. Experts from the first world made their way into other parts of the world to ‘develop’ the world as well as prepare it for multinational capitalism. Managers mediated investments and reverse money flows; global tourism developed. In SFY the sheikh requires expertise in return for a huge sum; ironically he is investing not in modernization but in Nature; however he is going against geography by attempting to ‘grow’ salmon in the Yemen, to satisfy a personal whim. That such rich Arabs’ whims offer not only a personal fortune, but also an escape from the precarious conjugal situation of Jones and the vulnerable love life of Harriet, is also telling. The East continues to be an escape for the West. As Disraeli’s oft quoted saying goes, it becomes an escape from personal problems because “The East is a career.” And so it is in Bride and Prejudice which at first sight seems merely a well done comic parody/adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). Instead of the wealthy English gentry, we have the new gentry, the American hotelier family from California, seeking to invest in India. The heir William Darcy spouts the classic view of the global capitalist: India is inefficient, its social relations, such as arranged marriages are outdated. But he is not racist like the earlier travelers: here it is class that divides and perhaps culture. Darcy has friends who are Indian. One of

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them is the counterpart of Bingley, whose affability consists of dancing Bollywood style instead of smiling, at parties. Mr. Collins is replaced by the NRI, the stereotype of the non-resident Indian, Kohli Saab, one of the new rich, who boasts about his hot tubs in California. The four daughters correspond to the sisters in Pride and Prejudice. The adaptation of a quintessential English classic, used in the colonies to propagate the English way of life (as Gauri Viswanathan has shown), to modern globalizing India is noteworthy. Significant for my argument is the character of Lalitha, the counterpart of Elizabeth Bennet. In the English domestic novel, Elizabeth is a trailblazer: through her wit and self-confidence which defies her society’s attempts to write her off as a not-pretty, somewhat wild, penniless second daughter, whose best prospect for a groom is the ludicrous Mr. Collins. In Bride and Prejudice, Lalitha becomes the only ‘native’ woman, other than the women in Indochine and Heat and Dust , to even speak in the discourse of the film. In the others, they ululate (Lawrence), speak like children (Handful and Passage), or are absent (Patient and Moonstone). But even those women who speak are not given any lines that could assert their power as women. In Indochine, the Asian woman is mostly portrayed either as a daughter or as fugitive, even if a revolutionary. Moreover she flees with a French officer, who joins her as a revolutionary, but risks his life (and is caught) for the baptizing their son, thus bestowing a French Catholic identity on him, one that determines his future allegiance to de Vries. In all the other films chosen, the women are absent, invisible, ululating in the background, portrayed as ‘savage’ and unpredictable, who possibly bed the Dickens obsessed Barbadian. Lalitha has some great lines. She rebukes Darcy for complaining about India, shaming him from the standard American’s expectation of luxuries based on US lavish and wasteful consumption of energy and resources: “I don’t know how business functions here…” Darcy says while complaining about the best hotel in town while informing her that his cost 400 dollars a night. A great dialogue about global inequality ensues: Lalitha: “thats what most people make in a year” Darcy: “Well people who can afford it want the best. There’s nothing wrong with having standards is there?” Lalitha: “No as long as you don’t impose them on others.”

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When he comments derisively on it, she defends the arranged marriage over the American ‘free’ choice which ends in divorce, mocking his superior air—“Americans think they have the answer to everything, including marriage. Pretty arrogant considering they have the highest divorcé rate in the world.” Later in a conversation by the hotel Swimming pool in Goa, where Darcy plans to open a chain, Lalitha rebukes him: “You think this is India?” “I dont want you turning India into a theme Park. thought we got rid of imperialists like you” “I’m not British, I’m American” “Exactly”.

The key dialogue marking the transition this book argues that the ‘Eastern’ covers: global hegemony and military dominance passing from Britain and France to the United States, the rise of NATO and Global capitalism. The portrayal of William Darcy as the new “elite” is right on the mark. The old Fitzwilliam Darcy was a member of the gentry whose undivided holdings were often buttressed by slave plantations (as Austen portrays in Mansfield Park (1813) in the estate of Thomas Bertram, or Charlotte Bronte portrays in Jane Eyre in Rochester’s estate financed by his “mad” wife’s estate in Jamaica). These holdings helped finance the Empire via banking: the “railways in Africa, banks across the Nile,” all of which helped in colonial transport of raw materials within and from the colonies, and finished goods to sell at high prices within regions as well. The new Mr. Darcy buys real estate, coverts them to hotel, under the pretext of creating jobs and “developing” India. But in fact, he only ends up creating a tourist market, misplaced consumerist values, yet securely keeps the major profits in the pockets of his rich US family and others like them. Lalitha’s farmer father in the Punjab is typical of those outdone by the new multi-nationalist culture which turns farming land into tourist real estate, perhaps, and also introduces GMOS that led to farmers’ suicides. None of this ugly reality is suggested in the film, though some of it is hinted at by Lalitha. The underbelly of Global Capitalism is brazenly voiced by Darcy’s mother, the Catherine de Bourgh of this piece.

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In Chapter 1, I asked, could: “the Eastern be attempting romance as the glue to sell their entry into the East to its people?” In both Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Bride and Prejudice, romance structures the plot. Both begin with misunderstandings and prejudice. While Darcy is proud and Elizabeth spirited, Jones is antisocial and Harriet in her own words, gushy. Scenes such as Jones barging in on a grieving Harriet and William Darcy acting boorish, highlight the conflict which is slowly resolved. The East is indeed a romantic backdrop, with the sheikh acting as matchmaker in the one, and the realities of Indian life facilitating Darcy’s reform in the other. But while Harriet steps out of her corporate conventionality, in staying with Jones in Yemen, Lalitha might have been co-opted into the global hotel business. One wonders if the East exists apart from a place where the new transnational romance finds fulfillment. India, Arabia, Indochina, and Amazonian Latin America were discussed in earlier chapters. Looking at the changing representations of these regions, this final chapter has looked at films depicting Yemen and Punjab. The latter especially, even though it is within the mode of a parody of Bollywood, leaves the viewer with a colorful, vibrant, and positive image of India, a corrective to Steven Spielberg’s appalling apocalyptic India in Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom. Finally, are there recent films that update/challenge the dystopic vision of Latin America in Evelyn Waugh? A recent film, astonishingly not very well received at the box office, is worth discussing. Dirty Dancing, Havana Nights (2004: prod. Jan Jensen, starring Romola Garai) is telling in many respects. Set in Havana in the months preceding Batista’s flight and Castro’s Cuba, it is at the cusp of transition in Cuba. The socialist status of Cuba is ironically belied by the curious fact of the entire film being shot in Puerto Rico. To any resident of PR the El San Juan Hotel, Old San Juan, Plaza de Armas, the beach scenes, the dance clubs are all immediately recognizable. The theme of erotic dance as a way to cement relations between cultures is almost cliche. The film has many of the elements discussed: the interaction between peoples, in this case, Cubans and Americans, the love story, the distinctive character of ‘other’ spaces. Like Bend it like Beckham (2002), the latter representation is largely positive. Havana looks like an attractive place to live in. But there are clearly two Havanas. The Americans live in the five star country club culture, while the Habaneros live in more crowded areas. In the hotels, the locals work menial jobs. The city spaces

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however are open to both, the plazas, the beaches, and the clubs. This binary is maintained throughout the film. The opening scene at the poolside of a posh hotel is typical. A group of young men and women sit around. The Cuban waiter accidentally breaks a glass. A racist epithet ‘stupid spic!’ said by the Caroline Bingley equivalent of this story, follows, initiating the action. This space is dominated by rich Americans. In the next sequence however, as Katie (Romola Garay) misses her school bus after a class session filled with ignorant North Americans, she sees the waiter Javier in his home turf, a plaza where people are dancing spontaneously. The theme of dance brings together the issues the film wishes to explore: spontaneity, males and females in un-selfconscious concert as they explore the rhythms of their bodies, unsullied by power or class politics. Caribbean dance as Javier says “is about being free,” the dance of slaves for whom dancing allowed an escape from the crippling and alien conditions on the plantation. And yet, the woman Katie offers something too, as a woman anxious not to be dominated on the dance floor by the greater panache of the Latin male. The happy dance scene on the plaza is broken up by the police. Other binary spaces are the country club dance versus the one at La Rosa Negra. Ananya Kabir traces the evolution of the couple dance from the spontaneous abandon of the dances by slaves. In this story, the two characters, separated by ethnicity, class, and region, evolve into a couple based on their history as dancing partners. In Dirty Dancing, Katie is suffering from displacement, having moved to Havana in her final year of high school. Though she is literary inclined, her parents have a background as couple dancers, albeit more Europeanized dances. Her mother, especially, has sacrificed her dance career and the freedom and personal fulfillment it offered, for the life of a corporate wife. In the Caribbean tropics, the so-called crucible of the dissemination of Afro-centered dance forms, her alienation from dance is heightened, and displaced/developed in the plot through her desire to integrate her daughter into corporate wifehood, through an arranged love affair with the North American boss’s son. Scenes such as the two wives going off for tennis, or her clumsily attempting to discuss the ritual sex her supposed boyfriend may expect of her, are examples. Sure enough, on their first date, Katie and the boss’s son James start the evening at a country club dance, then go to Javier’s supposed haunt, the Rosa Negra. Inevitably the cliche situation, where the blonde North American girl becomes an instant hit with the Latin male, is mitigated

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somewhat by the irony directed at Katie herself, her discomfort with her body, her out of sync ness with other US girls her age, her overcoming of Javier’s family’s hostility, and so on. Javier and she meet in liminal places, in garages, at the edge of the beach, outside the hotel marquee. The film disrupts stereotypes of the wild other, for its the two American girls who smoke, the US boy who makes an unwelcome advance, and the Cuban boy who behaves like a gentleman. In the dance sequences, Javier teaches Katie how to let go and embody in the dance the feeling of freedom imagined by the AfroCaribbean slaves whose legacy it is. Despite the parents’ shock at her intimate Latin ballroom numbers with he ‘pool boy,’ the film’s perspective validates the “other.” It occurs in obvious details like the revolution being shown as masterminded by natives instead of, as in Lawrence, the outsider, or unlike in Indochine, the native with the active collaboration of a Frenchman. However, the really interesting text is that of the dance, as I indicated briefly above. I now conclude with how the politics around dance or what has been called the kinetic text help us gesture toward a changing view of the other. In the many manifestations and unfoldings of modernity, the kinetic relations between men and women on the dance floor has been a focus of interest. It has been claimed that in ballroom dancing and subsequent forms, the lindy hop, the waltz, and in Atlantic forms the tango, rumba, and lately salsa and kizumbo, men and women are constructed newly. Plantation slavery in the Caribbean and Latin America as well in the American South, was the historical locus on the interaction of African rhythms, chiefly of spiritual and consequently, abandon and uninhibition, as played out on man/woman intimacy in dance, that became transferred to other regions as summarized below: ….the formative histories of iconic Latin American popular dances (son, samba, and tango) developing in Havana, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires in the nineteenth century retrace the encounter between European partner-held and African body movements that resulted in the distinctive kinesthetics of these dances. (Kabir)

In some analyses this ‘freedom’ is understood in a very limited sense, as though the free movement of either body signals a true inner or outer freedom. The voodoo like freedom of the African dance translates rather,

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into a very commercialized kind of freedom best exemplified in the Gatsbyesque jazz age and indeed, in the glitzy shiny salsa meets and clubs of today. Needless to say, this ambivalent reading of freedom as transmitted from the enslaved African body to the Euro-American dance floor is fraught with slippage. The ‘Eastern’ (or rather the Latin theme in this case) film may be explored in relation to this slippage. Its themes of erotic contact on the dance floor between Anglo and Latino cultures across the gender divide, the fact that the Latin American male even if not overtly of African derivation, draws from that supposed limbic freedom in the dance, and that in addition the Latino male carries more connotations of machismo than the Afro-Caribbean male; but dance as spiritual release and even at times frenzy, is not typically a part of the Latin ballroom scene: all of these factors would play into the slippage. Unpacking these as they appear in the cinematic text would help us get closer to the ideological message of the global Eastern. What does the couple dance in this film tell us about the new Cuba about to be born? Is Latin America presented as a space where people dance their lives away, while more serious business is conducted across the border? Javier reads Marti like his father, dreaming of a better Cuba away from capitalist clutches. Yet he agrees, because of his attraction to Katie, to participate in a dance competition, the prize of which is escape to the United States. The dynamic between men and women on the dance floor at La Rosa Negra and at the big band Latin ballroom competition, follows a men invite, women rise to the challenge of bodily abandon syndrome. Critics have argued that such a dynamic is not anti feminist, with women following men’s lead, but reflective of the subtler play of power and negotiation between men and women in difficult post plantation situations. But generally the couples being spoken of belong to the same society. In DDHN, the main couple is interculturally divided, introducing a gender dynamics that is post plantation, transnational, embroiled both in the gender politics of capitalist Cuba hurtling toward revolution and that of postwar America constructing new suburban and country club housewives. Batista’s Cuba still prostitutes itself to capitalism, and Javier’s dance is seen by his brothers as capitulation, hence not manly. His role as waiter and the indignities he suffers there further highlight his subordination. But in the plaza and on the dance floor, he regains his masculinity. The camera shows his role to be that of exciting the female body to greater physical abandon. He does this both to the Cuban women writhing in his arms and to Katie. In Katie’s case, this involves a slower

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process as she overcomes her inhibitions. Finally, the male dancer helps liberate the woman from her country club parents and middle American standards which would see her performance of the dance floor as shameless. Meanwhile Javier’s revolutionary brother and his friends see a Cuban boy dancing in a large hotel’s orchestrated big band dance as sycophancy. He cannot really play a Latino machismo-embodying-male in that context, despite his aggressive role on the dance floor. Cross-cultural ironies abound. While Javier’s mother sees Katie as a distraction, Katie’s parents see him as a ‘pool boy,’ a gold digger seeking to seduce their ‘nice American’ girl. However, Javier is in reality a responsible boy taking care of his entire family. The cliche of Cuban male embodying abandon and jouissance is illusory. Finally, though the Latin ballroom sequences are characterized by Javier as ‘Afro-Cuban’ dance, the dance of slaves, they already include many European elements, for Katie’s parents themselves danced a highly erotic/romantic dance. Javier decides in the end, to stay on in Cuba: he is in the end a lot more than the Latin dancer, he wishes to build a country.

Afterword

Films today can be watched and rewatched. We can no longer decide that one reading of a film when it took the screen by storm is the prevailing one. Gone with the Wind as a sweeping epic, is an example. What films denoted at their making—in Gone With the Wind (1939) romanticization of the Civil War for instance, connote much more now, when seen from the perspective of race for instance. Most studies of film, when pointing out racial stereotyping or imperialist ideologies for instance, might sound as if the film has a fixed effect, and a neat categorization. That might have been true when a film played in cinema halls for a while, and then disappeared, while the audience moved on, Now however, with TV, DVDs, Netflix, and so on, audiences could react anew every day. They may also be encouraged to widen their consciousness and look a film viewing as a creative act. I have tried in this study, to construct a resistant filmgoer, especially as regards the Global South. The stereotyping of the global South is not a new observation, as I have shown throughout the first few chapters, but the interaction of new interpretive registers with the overt aim of the director changes our viewing each time. It has been said that film, though it uses the denotative and connotative possibilities in a myriad forms: photographs, dance, music, art, “does not suggest, it states” (Monaco 177). Hollywood’s hegemonic power might make that true; the connotative control Hollywood has on its viewers, the command of the ideology—US lifestyle being centerstage, within which © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8

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they view, is indeed formidable. For instance audiences watching already know what a white person connotes, what an Indian village connotes, what an Amerindian tribe connotes, what a European city versus an Arab bazaar connotes, and so on. This is why it has been said that film has no gap between signifier and signified (Monaco 177). But a lot is going on in the complex semiotics of film. Usually in mainstream subjects, complexity is provided through composition (see Monaco for a discussion of the many things a rose can connote), by the myriad ways a thing is presented. But it does require background knowledge to view with complexity. Such background, or open-mindedness is lacking in viewers of films about the Global South. The result is a flat or prejudiced view. Thus the trope of the Amerindian or the desert, while they denote a particular race of person, or a type of landscape, connote something specific within the ideology which has been called Eurocentrism (see discussion on Shohat and Stam in Introduction). Naming Eurocentrism is fine, but how do we dismantle its building blocks, see what other filmic ideologies such as Romance, veil the operations of Eurocentric ideology? How does the Gothic rear its head as another way of appropriating the “mystery” of the Global South? What slippages occur as cliches of the treasure hunter, the explorer, the desert adventurer, all the stereotypical heroes of romance, disguise the ideological workings of the Eastern? The scene-by-scene unpacking of these as they appear in the cinematic text would help is get closer to the ideological message of the global Eastern. The chapters look at films closely, often scene by scene, for their effects, loosening the building blocks of imperialist connotation. While in mainstream cinema for mainstream audiences, connotative complexity can widen the sphere of interpretation, in Eastern cinema, the stereotype quickly takes over. For instance, in a mainstream film like Remains of the Day (1993), the butler is far from being just the servile figure he so strenuously tries to be. He interests us as a complex figure, a creature of his milieu. So too the butler in The Moonstone. But the water carrier Gunga Din is docketed securely in the slot of the sycophantic bhishti, even though he does appear many times in the film and even dies a hero. I hope by the close readings I offer, to crack open these slots, at their moment of representation, in the interest of a more complex viewing of the ‘Hollywood Eastern.’ The ‘other’ and the ‘otherland’ have been set

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loose from the tropes, cliches, codes, and discourses (such as were codified in the related ur-genre, the Western) dominant in Hollywood. These false and inadequate images were, as Newman says in another context, ‘recuperated into its [Hollywood’s] own system of recognition… as it furthered ‘its project of endlessly replicating itself’ (Newman 86). The only way to break the chain is to construct relentlessly, the resisting viewer.

Bibliography

Primary Works Cited A Handful of Dust. Directed by Charles Sturridge, Performances by James Wilby, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rupert Graves, Anjelica Huston, Judi Dench, New Line Cinema, 1988. A Passage to India. Directed by David Lean, Performances by Peggy Ashcroft, Judy Davis, James Fox, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers, Victor Banerjee, Roshan Seth, Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment (UK) and Columbia Pictures (North America), 1984. Bride and Prejudice. Directed by Gurinder Chadha, Performances by Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Daniel Gillies, Nadira Babbar, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, Indira Varma, Namrata Shirodkar, Sonali Kulkarni. Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone, 1868. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Directed by Guy Ferland, Performances by Diego Luna, Romola Garai, Sela Ward, John Slattery, Jonathan Jackson, January Jones, and Mika Boorem, Lions Gate Films, 2004. Forster, E. M. A Passage to India, 1924. Gunga Din. Directed by George Stevens, Performances by Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Sam Jaffe, Eduardo Ciannelli, Joan Fontaine, RKO Radio Pictures, 1939. Heat and Dust. Directed by James Ivory, Performances by Shashi Kapoor, Greta Scacchi, Julie Christie, Zakir Hussain, Curzon Film Distributors (UK) and Universal Classics (US), 1983. Indochine. Directed by Régis Wargnier, Performances by Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Pérez, Linh Dan Pham, Jean Yanne and Dominique Blanc, Bac Films, 1992. © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8

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Index

A Adventure films, 4–6, 13, 71, 73, 87, 122, 125 Armstrong, Nancy, 29 Arthurian Romance, 7, 8, 80

B Ballhatchet, Kenneth, 63, 114, 117 Bose, Mandrakanta, 58 Bride and Prejudice, 161, 162, 166, 167, 169 Brownmiller, Susan, 117

C Chadha, Gurinder, 11, 161 Collins, Wilkie, 35, 38, 47, 50, 58, 61, 65, 67, 167 colonies, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 25, 30, 31, 42, 52, 60, 106, 114, 132–134, 138, 141, 142, 146–148, 151, 155, 156, 167, 168 conquest, 4, 6, 13, 22, 24, 38

D Din, Gunga, 1, 2, 5, 9, 14, 22, 23, 25, 32, 35–44, 46, 49, 52–58, 60, 61, 64, 65, 67, 68, 71, 73, 75, 146, 156, 176 gems, 9, 61 Thuggee, 14, 23, 32, 37, 42, 46, 49, 56, 60, 64, 68, 155 Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights , 161, 169

E ‘Eastern’, 1–11, 20, 23–25, 27, 36–40, 45, 51–53, 55, 57, 68, 81, 84, 87–89, 93–95, 97, 102, 107, 109, 112, 118, 119, 127, 140, 146, 148–150, 154, 155, 161, 168, 169, 172, 176 Eisele, J., 2, 24, 45 The English Patient , 2, 9, 14, 22, 30, 33, 71, 72, 77, 82, 85–90, 92, 93, 96, 101, 102, 117, 135, 146, 161–163

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 N. Natarajan, Romance and Power in the Hollywood Eastern, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60994-8

201

202

INDEX

F fishing, 138, 141, 163, 165 Forster, E.M., 10, 92, 105, 110, 112, 115–117, 125 French colonialism, 148, 150, 153, 156, 157 frontier town, 19, 41–43

H A Handful of Dust , 2, 10, 14, 30, 33, 105, 107, 116, 120, 121, 123–125, 127, 130, 136, 137, 157, 161, 163 heat, 73, 85, 115 Heat and Dust , 2, 10, 14, 145, 146, 155, 157, 161, 167 hero, 5–9, 16, 17, 19, 21–25, 27, 28, 32, 44, 45, 53, 55, 71, 72, 79, 83, 84, 90, 94, 122, 124, 132, 153, 166, 176

I Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 13, 42, 49, 57, 150 Indochine, 2, 10, 14, 30, 32, 145– 147, 149, 155–158, 164, 167, 171 Ivory, James, 2, 145

J Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer, 145, 157

K Kali temple, 13, 55, 57, 60

L Lawrence, T.E., 71, 73, 75, 79, 82

Lawrence of Arabia, 1, 9, 14, 22, 31, 72, 74, 78, 80, 82, 87, 96, 102, 161, 162 Lean, David, 1, 25, 71, 82, 105, 109 Lukacs, Georg, 28, 30, 31

M Moonstone Adela Quested, 10, 98, 106, 108, 109, 146, 155, 162, 163 adventure, 4, 68, 121 allegory, 30, 147 Almasy, L., 73, 79, 82, 85, 89, 90, 93, 97, 99–101, 146 Amazon, 121, 122, 125–127, 130, 135, 137 Amerindians, 16, 18, 19, 43, 45, 53, 55, 65, 73, 129, 132, 133, 140, 142, 143, 176 Arabia, 7, 74–76, 79, 80, 169 aristocracy, 149 Asian, 1, 148, 150, 161, 167 audiences, 3, 4, 15, 35, 39, 75, 128, 175, 176 Barbadian, 122, 125, 135, 167 body, 57, 74, 90, 95, 106, 171 Brownmiller, Susan, 117 Burnett, Graham, 129 Caliban, 134, 148 cassava, 130, 131, 137, 138 caves, 27, 30, 111, 115–118 Cinderella, 153 congai, 147, 150, 154 couple dance, 161, 170, 172 Cuba, 161, 169, 172 dance, 151, 170–173, 175 desert, 9, 10, 18, 19, 25, 30, 33, 71–75, 78, 79, 85, 86, 89, 91, 95, 97, 102, 117, 162 English Patient , 2, 14, 22, 146 Forster, E.M., 10, 105, 117

INDEX

Global South, 1, 2, 7, 175, 176 Gothic, 7, 8, 72, 120, 157 Guyana, 2, 7, 10, 14, 107, 121, 124, 125, 127–129 Handful of Dust , 2, 10, 14, 105, 114, 120, 123, 125, 136, 137, 150, 157, 163 imperialist, 135, 175, 176 India, 4, 7, 10, 14, 32, 36, 38, 40, 47, 49, 52, 53, 57, 58, 60, 66, 68, 120, 169 Indochine, 2, 10, 14, 30, 32, 145–147, 149, 155, 157, 164, 167, 171 intimacy, 8, 149, 151, 164 Latin America, 13, 24, 28, 30, 31, 126, 127, 132, 169, 171, 172 Lawrence of Arabia, 22 Marabar Caves, 33, 98, 107, 111, 113, 114, 118, 120, 146 memsahib, 10, 111 Middle east, 20, 21, 40, 82, 161, 166 military, 7, 26, 42, 60, 64, 71, 93, 168 Natarajan, 58, 112, 114 Nawab, 10, 155 New Woman, 97, 99, 106–109, 116, 121–125, 127, 155, 157, 163 North Africa, 9, 18, 26, 52, 82, 89, 93, 97 nostalgia, 6, 10, 150 Passage to India, 2, 10, 14, 30, 105, 108, 136 Pie Wie, 122, 125, 130, 133, 136, 143 plantation, 23, 132, 141, 146–148, 156, 168, 170, 172 Prospero, 148 psychoanalysis, 3, 158 royal, 148, 155, 156

203

Royal geographical society, 128 salsa, 171, 172 Schomburgk, 128, 130–134, 138–142 seductions, 27, 67, 97, 145 sexuality, 15, 65–68, 112, 115, 116 stereotype, 1, 52, 176 Stoler, A., 112, 114, 116 terra incognita, 73, 86, 121, 130, 137, 139 transcultural, 148 Turks, 73, 81, 85, 96 Waugh, Evelyn, 10, 97, 105, 125, 128, 130, 136 mother, 31, 122, 124, 126, 133, 148, 149, 151–153, 157, 158, 168, 170, 173 multinational, 164, 166

N nation, 21, 30, 31, 39, 52, 64, 127 Native Americans, 4, 17–22, 24, 41, 45, 77, 81, 121, 127, 134, 143

O oil, 22, 23, 26, 27, 161, 162, 165 Ondaatje, Michael, 9, 71, 73, 87, 88, 90, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 100 opium, 66, 67, 147, 153, 158 Orientalism, 25, 26, 72, 80, 88, 96, 103, 106, 107, 120, 161

P palace, 10, 61, 62, 155 A Passage to India, 2, 10, 54, 105, 107, 108, 114, 117, 120, 123, 136, 150, 155, 161 postcolonial pirates, 5, 37, 44

204

INDEX

treasure, 8, 9, 37, 41, 56, 58, 60, 61, 68 women, 10, 87, 152, 157 R romance, 4–11, 14, 27–33, 39, 50, 60, 68, 71–86, 88, 93–95, 97, 100, 102, 107, 109, 119, 120, 123, 125, 145–147, 152, 155–157, 161, 162, 169, 176 rubber, 146, 148–150 S salmon, 162, 163, 165, 166 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, 11, 161, 162, 166, 169 Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 71 Shohat, Ella, 1, 3, 4, 18, 23, 24, 35, 105, 145, 176 Sommer, Doris, 28–32, 127 Stagecoach, 16, 18, 19, 45, 73 Stalking Moon, 16, 19, 40, 43, 45 Stam, Robert, 1, 3, 4, 18, 23, 24, 35, 97, 105, 145, 176

T Taves, Brian, 5, 87

W Waugh, Evelyn, 10, 97, 105, 125–128, 130, 134–136 Western, 2–8, 13–25, 27, 33, 36–46, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 71, 73, 77, 81, 83, 84, 87–89, 93, 106, 108, 118, 127, 148–151, 176 wilderness, 19, 22, 27, 30, 73, 82, 139 Wild West, 18, 20, 22, 29, 71 woman, 10, 17, 19, 25, 28, 30, 40, 41, 45, 52, 71, 74, 77, 78, 85, 87, 89, 90, 92, 94–101, 107, 108, 110–115, 117, 122–125, 132, 133, 136, 146, 147, 150, 152, 154–158, 164, 166, 167, 170, 173

Y Yemen, 162–164, 166, 169