In 1942 Daphne Manners, a naive young woman newly arrived in the town of Mayapore, befriends Hari Kumar, an Indian-born journalist who has spent most of his life in England. With his dark skin and educated English accent, Hari feels like an outsider wherever he goes, but Daphne understands his plight and they become romantically involved. Their developing relationship is jealously observed by local police chief Ronald Merrick, a man haunted by his own demons. When the lovers are attacked in the gardens of the ruined Bibighar palace and Daphne is raped, Merrick seizes his opportunity, pins the crime on Hari, and has the young man jailed. Distraught, Daphne flees to her aunt's home in Kashmir, where she dies giving birth to a half-caste child. The focus then shifts to Sarah Layton, a young Englishwoman who becomes fascinated by the story of Daphne and Hari, and who will have her own encounter with Ronald Merrick.
The events in the Bibighar gardens become a symbol of the violent struggle for Indian independence, and other symbols--Daphne's bicycle, a length of butterfly lace, a picture of Queen Victoria on an Indian throne--appear and reappear, linking people and events. This helps to give coherence to the plot even as it spans five years and expands to include many characters whose lives intersect in complex and unexpected ways.
With a huge cast and breathtaking location photography, The Jewel in the Crown was an enormous undertaking when it was made in the early 1980s. Twenty years later it has lost none of its power, and it remains one of the best films ever made for television. --Simon Leake
While the series itself is wonderful and certainly worth owning, I have NEVER seen a worse DVD transfer. Even my seedy Madacy Entertainment copy of Fritz Lang's 1226 "Metropolis" is of higher quality. The visuals are fuzzy and grainy at the same time, and there are severe block artifacts everytime the screen gets even slightly dark. All scenes shot at night or in the darkness are almost unwatchable because of the visual noise.
The sound seemed alright to me at first, but then I turned the volume up a bit and found that there is a kind of low-pitch static, like machine noise underneath the vocals and music.
Please buy the VHS tapes - and let A&E know that this is simply unacceptable!
It was produced (like Brideshead Revisited) by Granada Television and comes from a golden period in British TV programme making where there was a genuine rivalry to make quality TV programmes between the BBC and other independent companies which not only entertain but also educate.
The Jewel in the Crown has to be one of the best TV series ever made anywhere. The massive scope of the story and the fantastic acting and filming make the series immortal. Add to that the period setting and it doesn't age at all.
Just a shame us Brits have to buy the DVD version from the US because they can't be bothered to produce it over this side of the pond!!!
Two words of advice "BUY IT"
The Jewel in the Crown is absolutely one of historic the highlights of "quality" television. An absolutely arresting story. Wonderful script, wonderful acting, etc. I can't add anything on that count to the reviews already here.
That makes the TERRIBLE quality of the DVD transfer all the more disappointing. This set has literally the WORST video quality I have ever seen on a DVD! Murky, muddy picture with visible scratches and dirt on the film. The soundtrack is a little better. On my home theater setup it sounds like its coming over a half-decent clock radio. Seriously, the picture looks like they took an old VHS tape of the show and just ran it through a disc burner.
No, I don't expect blockbuster quality from an 30-year old BBC film, but I would have expected something more like the recent DVD set of Elizabeth R, which is quite watchable.
Sadly, this is almost surely the only DVD we'll ever see of this marvelous series. I'm going to rent the old tapes of this. They might easily be better. If not, I guess this is what we're all stuck with.
The DVD is not a bright, crystalline picture. Colors are somewhat washed out, and the image is not particularly sharp, especially in dark scenes. However, the picture is generally free of annoying blemishes. After quickly adjusting to the picture quality, I enjoyed the series very much.