Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Tiger and the Flame|
Actors: Baby Shikha, Gloria Gasper, Kamalakant, Anil Kishore, Marconi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
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Exotic visual spectacle on display in India's first color fi
Brian Camp | Bronx, NY | 01/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE TIGER AND THE FLAME (1953) is a sweeping historical epic made in India by Indian filmmakers with some help from the west including noted Hollywood cinematographer Ernest Haller (GONE WITH THE WIND). It bills itself in the opening credits as "India's First Picture in Color by Technicolor" and tells the saga of a historical figure, Jhansi Ki Rani (a name by which the film is also known), a warrior queen who fought against the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. It dramatizes select incidents and events from the years 1838-1858 in the life of Manu, as Jhansi is known as a child when we first meet her. The film keeps us at a distance from the characters, treating the story as a pageant, a collection of exquisitely staged scenes on a public stage bedecked with lavish sets, picturesque historic structures, beautiful costumes, rich colors and hundreds of extras in the big setpieces. We never get as emotionally engaged as we should, partly because the film bends over backward to be fair to the British, so we're never asked to develop outrage at abuses occurring during the British occupation of India (which is blamed here primarily on the British East India Co.).
Still, it's never dull, thanks to a steady steam of spectacular scenes offering backdrops of age-old palaces, forts and towns in locations not often captured on film available in the west. There are two great battle scenes late in the film, involving clashing armies on horseback, exchanges of cannon fire, and breaching fortress walls, that are as intricate and large in scale as anything being attempted in Hollywood at the time. This DVD edition was made from an original English-dubbed film print marred by the customary hazards of worn prints, including scratches on the film and occasional choppiness caused by film splices. Yet the color values of old Technicolor are quite dazzling here and I prefer a print like this to one altered by the compromises of digital restoration. Like it or not, this print shows us how the film would have looked in a theater some 50 years ago.
The DVD contains the 96-minute U.S. release version from 1956, a loss of 52 minutes from the original 148-minute cut. There are gaps in the narrative and very few scenes of human drama or intimacy. Perhaps they're in the lost footage. Still, given the low price of this DVD, it's quite a rare find and rich in novelty value for film buffs interested in Indian cinema, the history of color cinematography, and a cinematic treatment of India's history as seen through the eyes of Indian filmmakers, not Hollywood's.
Annal of an important history
Jigyasu | Nashville, TN | 01/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was one of the few early India-produced films to enjoy distribution in the US. The protagonist of the movie Laxmibai was the queen of a small principality in Central India. Laxmibai's heroic fight to save her state from British annexation is part of the Indian folklore. This movie, though not the best in its class, is still remarkable for the accuracy of the historical facts and the lavishness of sets considering its year of production being 1955. Sohrab Modi was a director of the calibre of Victor Fleming and he did produce a remarkable film at a grand scale."
$5.99 for a piece of cinematic history but no subtitles
Dwight | USA | 06/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The sound and the color have not been remastered but this movie is still worth watching especially for the use of real dancers for the Indian dance scenes."
Bollywood at its finest
Clamdigger | Pahoa, Hawai'i USA | 01/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a classic film from 1950s' India, with a cast of both Indians and Europeans... The "colorful" and "musical" aesthetic may be a bit alien to most consumers of America's Hollywood fluff, even from the same era, but it is much less so than many more recent Indian "Bollywood" productions. All-in-all, this is an important and accessible "foreign film" from the Western perspective.
Why important? Well, this film deals with some of the personalities and events of the infamous "Indian Mutiny" of the late 1850s... from the Indian side. Leaving aside our modern "politically correct" crap, this was a conflict of incredible savagery and cruelty on the part of many combatants, and there was tragic loss of life amongst defenseless prisoners and relatively innocent civilians... men, women and children... on all sides. This film quite reasonably presents the less publicized (in the West) Indian view, in which the conflict is cast as an heroic anti-colonial struggle against the arrogant, relentless and racist territorial and political encroachments of the British East India Company - in someone else's country.
Despite this understandable nationalistic cast, the film takes a surprisingly humanistic tack, with much less self-righteousness than one might expect from a similar Western film about any of *our* wars (where the totally good guys inevitably prevail against their totally evil and monstrous opponents). Perhaps this generosity of view is a consequence of Indian culture and philosophy, or perhaps it simply arises from the historical fact that they ultimately lost to the British... and took another 90 years to throw off the domination of foreigners from Europe.
Good movie, anyway, for a history buff. For a different view of this now-distant historical episode - from a Western author - and to understand the events described in the movie a lot better than most non-Indian viewers, I would recommend reading "Our Bones Are Scattered: The Cawnpore Massacres and The Indian Mutiny Of 1857", by Andrew Ward."