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Friday, May 19, 2017

Prapancha Pash (aka A Throw Of Dice) (1929)

Set in India, two royal cousins rule in adjoining kingdoms. But one (Himansu Rai) plots the death of the other (Charu Roy) in order to inherit his kingdom. There is also the matter of the beautiful country girl (Seta Devi), they both love. Directed by Franz Osten, this is one of the unsung jewels of silent cinema. Inspired by the MAHABHARATA, it's a genuine romantic epic with shimmering visuals and an impressive sense of extravagance. The film is an Indian (Rai who plays Sohan was the producer) and German (Osten is German) co-production. Unfortunately, Osten (who lived in India) was also a member of the Nazi party which effectively put an end to his career when the British authorities interned him during WWII. But the film remains a superb combination of melodrama and exoticism with naturalistic performances by its cast that provide a richly cinematic experience. The transfer I saw has the 2008 score specially composed by Nitin Sawhney for the film's restoration and it's a beautiful piece of work that elevates the film onto another level. If you have any interest in silent cinema at all, this is a must see.

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