The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959 film)

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The Tiger of Eschnapur
The Tiger of Eschnapur.jpg
German film poster
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Artur Brauner
Written by Fritz Lang
Werner Jörg Lüddecke
Thea von Harbou (novel)
Starring Debra Paget
Paul Hubschmid
Walter Reyer
Music by Michel Michelet
Cinematography Richard Angst
Edited by Walter Wischniewsky
Distributed by American International Pictures
Fantoma
Omnia-Film
Polyband GmbH
Release dates
  • 22 January 1959 (1959-01-22)
Running time 101 minutes
Country West Germany
France
Italy[1][2][3]
Language German

The Tiger of Eschnapur, or in original German, Der Tiger von Eschnapur, is a 1959 West German-French-Italian adventure film directed by Fritz Lang.[1] It is the first of two films comprising what has come to be known as Fritz Lang's Indian Epic; the other is The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal). Fritz Lang returned to Germany to direct these films, which together tell the story of a German architect, the Indian maharaja for whom he is supposed to build schools and hospitals, and the Eurasian dancer who comes between them.

Prior works[edit]

Lang's Indian epic is based on work he did forty years earlier on a silent version of Das Indische Grabmal. He and Thea von Harbou co-wrote the screenplay, basing it on von Harbou's novel of the same name. Lang was set to direct, but that job was taken from him and given to Joe May. Though Lang did not control the final form of that earlier version, it is one of his most revered films.[clarification needed]

Released in 1921, the original version of Das Indische Grabmal had a running time of 312 hours. For the remake, Lang divided the story into two parts that each run about 100 minutes, a length modern audiences can more easily accept.

Plot[edit]

The tale begins when architect Harold Berger (Paul Hubschmid) arrives in India to meet with Maharaja Chandra (Walter Reyer), for whom he will build schools and hospitals. En route to the Maharaja's palace, Berger meets a dancer named Seetha (Debra Paget) and saves her from a tiger. Seetha, whose father was European, is promised to the Maharaja, but she and the architect begin to fall in love. Predictably, this leads to a buildup of tension between Chandra and Berger, helped along by scheming palace courtiers. The film is also filled with action, and a highlight of it is Seetha's first ritual dance. At the end of Tiger, Seetha and Berger are imprisoned but escape into the desert just as Berger's sister and her husband, also an architect who works with Berger, arrive in Eschnapur. Chandra informs them the plans have changed; he now wants a tomb to be built.

Cast[edit]

Filming locations[edit]

This cliffhanger unfolds against a sweeping backdrop incorporating lavish but relatively spare and open sets, a trademark of Lang's work.[citation needed] He also made extensive use of on-location shots. Having lived for a number of years in India,[citation needed] he was able to get permission from the Maharana of Udaipur to shoot at many locations that were normally barred to Western film crews. One of these was the floating Lake Palace seen much later in Octopussy.[4]

Releases[edit]

The two films were edited down into one 95-minute feature courtesy of American International Pictures and released in the US in 1959 as Journey to the Lost City—with Seetha's dance scenes heavily trimmed, courtesy of the Hays Office. The negatives of Fritz Lang's original films were thought to be lost, but recently a set was rediscovered. Fantoma Films restored them to DVD format, producing one disc for each film. The discs contain both German and English dialogue tracks, plus other extras. They were released by Image Entertainment in 2001.[5]

Trivia[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mannikka, Eleanor. "The Tiger of Eschnapur". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Der Tiger von Eschnapur". BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Der Tiger von Eschnapur". Filmportal.de. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ DVD Savant Review: The Tiger of Eschnapur & The Indian Tomb
  5. ^ dOc DVD Review: The Tiger Of Eschnapur (1959)

External links[edit]