Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: Der Tiger von Eschnapur
Alternate title: Tiger Of Bengal
West Germany/France/Italy, 1959. Central Cinema Company Film, Rizzoli Film, Regina Production, Critérion Film. Screenplay by Werner Jorg Luddecke, based on the novel Das Indische Grabmal by Thea von Harbou. Cinematography by Richard Angst. Produced by Artur Brauner. Music by Michel Michelet. Production Design by Helmut Nentwig, Willy Schatz. Costume Design by Claudia Hahne-Herberg. Film Editing by Walter Wischniewsky.
Fritz Lang’s two-part adventure film is in German but set in India, the first part ending with a cliffhanger which continues to the second installment, The Indian Tomb. Engineer Paul Hubschmid is travelling to the kingdom of Eschnapur to supervise the creation of a new palatial complex, meeting en route a gorgeous dancer (Debra Paget, dialogue dubbed) who has been invited by the prince to perform and, unbeknownst to her, be made his bride. Paget and Hubschmid fall madly in love, which only leads to danger for them as they arrive in an exotic land where they will not only incur the prince’s jealous wrath but will also step into an impending rivalry between the leader and his ambitious brother. The plotting is somewhat lax in excitement (it doesn’t actually need to be two films, one would have covered it all), but Lang was always the unstoppable image maker and here he does not disappoint. The view of India has about as much connection to reality as Oz does to Kansas, he’s actually setting an Arabian Nights-like tale in the wrong country (and using white people in brownface to tell it), but if you can get into the Saturday Matinee flavor of it, the kind of film that inspired Raiders Of the Lost Ark or even The Purple Rose of Cairo, you’ll be dazzled by the enormous sets and deliriously beautiful cinematography.