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81 Ratings

Heat and Dust

Directed by James Ivory
United Kingdom, 1983
Drama, Romance


The experiences of two young English women in India, two generations apart, in the 1920s and 1980s. Anne, a young historical researcher, inherits letters written by her great aunt Olivia, and becomes obsessed with their revelation of an exotic and sensual past.

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Heat and Dust Directed by James Ivory

Awards & Festivals

BAFTA Awards

1984 | Winner: Best Screenplay - Adapted

1984 | 7 nominations including: Best Cinematography

London Critics Circle Film Awards

1984 | Winner: Screenwriter of the Year

Critics reviews

With the world falling apart all around us, watching a Merchant Ivory film from 1983 might, at first, sound like the dumbest fucking thing anybody could do right now. Or maybe it’d just be an understandable, comforting response to the untenable chaos of the moment — “sheetcaking,” I believe, is the parlance du jour. But let’s not judge the morality of anyone’s viewing choices… Let’s just note that there’s a whole lot of cathartic pain in Heat and Dust, if you know where to look for it.
August 29, 2017
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The film sticks resolutely to the perspective of the navel-gazing outsider, looking on this vast nation with the filmmakers’ characteristic tone of slyly ironic emotional reserve tinged with moments of quiet melancholy. That approach works well enough for the 1920s segments of the film, appropriately conveying the tragicomic nature of British imperialism, but it renders the contemporary sequences dispassionate and dramatically murky.
August 27, 2017
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The whirligig of time is at the heart of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s short but complex novel from which James Ivory and Ismail Merchant have drawn one of their best films.
December 01, 1982
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