Fritz Lang's Indian Epic DVD
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Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced in 1959
Main Language - German / English with English subtitles
Debra Paget, Paul Hubschmid, Walter Reyer
Lang brought the style of his silent films to this two-part Technicolor melodrama full of adventure and intrigue. It's an early contender for DVD of the Year says James Oliver.
Fate's a funny thing. Fritz Lang's penultimate film(s) have been much misunderstood and frequently assailed over the years but there are many Langians – including your humble correspondent – that regard them amongst his finest achievements. And since Fritz Lang was one of the greatest of directors, that means – oh man...
On his way to meet the Maharajah of Eshnapur, German architect Harald Berger (Paul Hubschmid) encounters the beautiful Seetha (Debra Paget), headed the same way. She's going to dance in the temple but falls for Berger when he saves her from a tiger. Trouble is, the Maharajah also has his eye on her. If this love triangle wasn't enough, there's palace intrigue, plots and counter-plots, hidden passages and lepers, ravening beasts and divine intervention.
This is pure melodrama but it's how Lang films it that's important. The previous ten years had seen him pare his style down to a minimum but here, he effortlessly slipped back into the style of his silent pictures. The story is distilled to its pulp essence, muting nuance and emphasising sensationalist aspects in a series of hallucinatory set-pieces – a woman is murdered during a magic show; a man dying in the desert fires futile bullets at the indifferent sun; the gods (apparently) save a fleeing couple.
Such dreamlike moments remind us of the huge impact Lang had on the Surrealists. Indeed, this film represents the fullest expression of his own surrealist tendencies, never more clear than in the astounding sequence where Debra Paget, as naked as cinematic standards of 1959 allowed, disports herself before a very obviously (deliberately?) fake snake. One can imagine Luis Bunuel watching it and muttering, 'Caramba. I wish I'd thought of that.'
That these films are appearing on DVD at all should inspire ululation up and down the land; that they do so with gorgeous, reference quality transfers and accompanied by genuinely useful extras means that DVD label Masters of Cinema should be placed on the fast track for beatification. It's too early to speak of 'DVD of the years' but it'll take something pretty special to top this.
James Oliver on 25th March 2011
Author of 161 reviews
A two-part adventure epic from the legendary director Fritz Lang, comprising Der Tiger von Eschnapur (Tiger of Bengal, 1959) and Das Indische Grabmal (The Tomb of Love, 1959).
Fritz Lang returned to Germany on the eve of the 1960s to direct this penultimate work, which proved to be one of the legendary director's most adventurous achievements. Essentially a single 3 hour-plus film split in two, it has come to be referred to in modern times as 'the Indian epic'. It was one of the most popular successes Lang was to experience in his native land.
A German architect (Paul Hubschmid) is commissioned by an Indian maharaja (Walter Reyer) to construct a temple on his palatial grounds. After saving the life of a bewitching dancer (Debra Paget) on whom the maharaja has spousal designs, the pair are drawn into a hazardous maze of traps, perhaps the purest realisation of Lang's obsession with a labyrinthine 'house of traps' – that is, Man challenging Fate.
Like Lang's following final work Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The 1000 Eyes of Dr Mabuse), the Indian epic charts new territory for the director, as it marries the melodramatic tenor of his early silents with a lurid palette. Arriving in the wake of The River (Renoir) and Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger), it also stands among the remarkable mid-century contributions of the great Western filmmakers who explored India.
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 203 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 18th April 2011
Cat No: EKA50047
Subtitles: English , Hard of Hearing - English
- Beautiful, newly restored transfers of the films in their original 1.37:1 aspect ratio
- Two soundtracks: the native German-language track, and the English-language dubtrack made for overseas distribution
- Newly translated optional English subtitles
- New and exclusive feature-length audio commentaries by film scholar David Kalat
- 20-minute documentary on the making of the Indian epic
- Three minutes of vintage 8mm footage shot on location by actress Sabine Bethmann
- The original French trailers for both Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das indische Grabmal
- A lengthy booklet containing an essay on the films by Lang scholar Tom Gunning (The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity)
- excerpts from interviews with Fritz Lang about the film
- and more!
“Colorful action adventure story”
by Liam Williams on 25th October 2012
As a Fritz Lang enthusiast, I enjoyed this very colorful and exciting adventure film made in part in India. In particular; I greatly enjoyed the dancing scenes with De... Read on
As a Fritz Lang enthusiast, I enjoyed this very colorful and exciting adventure film made in part in India. In particular; I greatly enjoyed the dancing scenes with Debra Paget - sensual and erotic! Hide