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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy (review)

This 1986 classic from Masterpiece Theater has been a long time coming to DVD, and it was well worth the wait. Emmy winner for best script, this six-part miniseries follows World War II hero Lord Louis Mountbatten as, between 1946 and 1947, he organized the withdrawal of British forces from India and oversaw the splitting off of Pakistan in an attempt to prevent civil war. Neither his noble intentions, however, nor his earnest diplomatic massaging of the leaders of the various factions — Nehru (Ian Richardson: From Hell), Gandhi (Sam Dastor), and others — can prevent sectarian violence from breaking out. Nicol Williamson portrays Mountbatten with a kind of weary sadness, fully aware of the enormity of his task and determined to carry it out not only in an equitable and responsible manner but with as much pomp and circumstance as possible, not to forestall the inevitable fall of the axe on the Empire but to go out with dignity. With his equally dedicated wife, Lady Edwina (Janet Suzman), a full partner in his efforts, Mountbatten is a melancholy witness to and perpetrator of the shuttering of the British Empire. There are no extras to speak of, but the 20-year-old sound and audio are crisp and clear.

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MPAA: recommended for mature audiences

viewed at home on a small screen

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