The Marabar Caves - page 2
The film continues thus: After some refreshments, the guide lights his lantern and leads the party, plus numerous villagers and interested people into the cave. He demonstrates the echo, and invites Dr Aziz to do the same. The noise and the crush are too much for Mrs Moore, who blindly rushes out into the sunlight, and collapses into a chair.
At this point, we cut to Shepperton Studios back in England, as the guide followed by Adela and Dr Aziz walk down a passage and into a 'cave', where the 'curious echo' is demonstrated.
The location of Savandurga was found by Eddie Fowlie, on a location-hunting trip near Bangalore. As Kevin Brownlow writes in his book 'David Lean - a biography', one of the problems, though, was that despite the wonderful location, there were no caves there. David knew he was going to shoot the interior in a studio, but he had to have at least the entrance. What happened next caused some controversy in India. The reports in the papers that said that the rock was blasted to make the caves were not quite true. As production manager Shama Habibullah said: "I admit the rocks were cut, to exactly the shape David wanted them. In order to see that no real damage was done, we got people who were carvers - temple carvers of statues - which is a highly skilled job They cut those entrances. No dynamite, beyond the little charge you use to losen where you drill. We could never have dynamited a hole. That would have been impossible, apart from being extremely dangerous and wasteful."
David's use of the rock face continued to cause controversy when he started shooting. Patrick Cadell, assistant director said: "One or two journalists came out from Europe and they were told they couldn't go out to the location. If someone travels all that way, especially if he is a journalist, its a bit silly not to allow him to come on to the set. But Lean wouldn't allow it." The result was a devastating article in the Sunday Times magazine (8th Apr 1984) by Ian Jack which was subtitled "What if an Indian director decided he would like to rearrange Stonehenge?" 'Lean blasts several holes in the previously untroubled granite' etc. etc. Several members of the unit considered this was merely a journalist's attempt to get his own back, and that it was unfair and unjust. Even Peggy Ashcroft thought the talk of blowing out the caves was total nonsense. "You could say, I suppose, that I desecrated the cliff face", said David. "but it was a newspaper story that blew it up into the Englishman who desecrated this wonderful Indian landscape. In fact, only a mile down the road, the Japanese were cutting rock by the ton and shipping it off to Japan because its wonderful granite." Today, the hills are silent again, and the lower cave entrance has been naturally shielded as trees and bushes fill the valley once more.
Back to the film... Mrs Moore rests in a deck-chair after her ordeal. She suggests to Dr Aziz and Miss Quested that when they visit the next caves, higher up, they only take the guide with them, and so avoid the crush of people experienced in the lower cave. They agree, and set off together up the hill towards the upper caves.
This section of the film was still shot at Savandurga, but then, at the point where Dr Aziz offers his hand to assist Adela with the climb, the location jumps 25 miles south to the town of Ramanagaram.
Please go to the Marabar 3 page to read the final page in my Marabar Hills story...