The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959 film)
|The Tiger of Eschnapur|
German film poster
|Directed by||Fritz Lang|
|Produced by||Artur Brauner|
|Written by||Fritz Lang
Werner Jörg Lüddecke
Thea von Harbou (novel)
|Music by||Michel Michelet|
|Edited by||Walter Wischniewsky|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures
|Running time||101 minutes|
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. 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.
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 31⁄2 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.
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.
- Debra Paget as Seetha
- Paul Hubschmid as Harold Berger
- Walter Reyer as Chandra
- Claus Holm as Dr. Walter Rhode
- Luciana Paluzzi as Baharani
- Valéry Inkijinoff as Yama
- Sabine Bethmann as Irene Rhode
- René Deltgen as Prince Ramigani
- Jochen Brockmann as Padhu
- Richard Lauffen as Browana
- Jochen Blume as Asagara
- Helmut Hildebrand as Ramigani's servant
- Guido Celano as General Dagh (uncredited)
- Victor Francen as Penitent (uncredited)
- Panos Papadopoulos as Courier (uncredited)
- Angela Portaluri as Peasant woman (uncredited)
This cliffhanger unfolds against a sweeping backdrop incorporating lavish but relatively spare and open sets, a trademark of Lang's work. He also made extensive use of on-location shots. Having lived for a number of years in India, 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.
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.
- Another film titled Der Tiger von Eschnapur was released in Germany in 1938. It too was based on Thea von Harbou's novel Das Indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb). The film was directed by Richard Eichberg and written by him along with Hans Klaehr and Arthur Pohl.
- Mannikka, Eleanor. "The Tiger of Eschnapur". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- "Der Tiger von Eschnapur". BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- "Der Tiger von Eschnapur". Filmportal.de. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- DVD Savant Review: The Tiger of Eschnapur & The Indian Tomb
- dOc DVD Review: The Tiger Of Eschnapur (1959)
- The Tiger of Eschnapur at the Internet Movie Database
- The Tiger of Eschnapur at AllMovie
- "Come On, Baby, Be My Tiger" - article about the several versions of the film
- DVD Savant
- Digitally Obsessed
- Artur-Brauner-Archive at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt (German), containing the production files for this movie