Joe May's spectacular "The Indian Tomb" captivated audiences in 1921, and was one of the biggest successes of its day. This lavish adventure thriller transported cinemagoers to an atmospheric India of the romantic imaginat... more »ion, with elaborate temples and palaces, exotic yogis and dancing girls, roaring tigers on the prowl and hissing cobras. Thea von Harbou's colorful plot stretches over two feature-length films, with twists and turns worthy of a serial. Ayan, the powerful Maharajah of Eschnapur, has lost his beloved wife, the beautiful Princess Savitri, but not through death. He plots revenge against Savitri and her lover MacAllan, an English officer. Ayan vows to build a tomb to his dead love; he'll supply the mausoleum's occupant. A yogi, Ramigani, prophesies that revenge will ruin the prince's life. Ayan sends the yogi to Europe to hire an architect, Herbert Rowland, who is sworn to secrecy about his commission. Rowland's fiancee Irene follows him to India, and the adventure begins. "The Indian Tomb" features a fantastic star-studded cast, topped by the legendary Conrad Veidt, who has a field day as the charismatic, sadistic Maharajah. Sumptuously photographed by Werner Brandes with a beautiful new score compiled and orchestrated by Eric Beheim, this is the most complete version available.« less
Gwen Kramer | Sunny and not-so-sunny California | 10/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most movie lovers know that to describe a movie as stately is critic jargon for slow and boring. However, it's really the only word I can think of to describe the beginning of this film. The Maharajah of Bengal unearths a slumbering holy man and sends him on a mission: bring back the English architect Herbert Rowland to build a fabulous to tomb to Ayan's dead love. Thus begins part one of The Indian Tomb.One of the most expensive movies of the 20s, the film was panned by critics of the time and was a box office disappointment. It was unfortunate enough to be both ahead of its time and stuck in the past. The melodramatic plot involving chases, escapes, revenge and all that good stuff seemed positively old fashioned. The sets and special effects were excellent but they simply were not enough to pull in an audience. (What? Good special effects in a silent movie? You'd better believe it. Nothing like today, of course, but no "oh, that's so phoney" moments) Another problem was that American viewers saw the cutdown version. This was meant to be a two-part story but the studios released an extremely abbreviated (and apparently incoherent) version. It's frankly amazing that the entire movie survived intact. But fortunately it did and it is presented in complete form, possibly this is the first time Americans have had a chance to see the whole thing.What makes this movie distinctly different from most movies of the era is the unusually intelligent heroine (she makes a few mistakes but then so do the guys). Mia May, wife of the director Joe May, plays Irene, the fiancee of the Herbert. American critics of the time made some rather unkind remarks about her age and weight but really, is it so wrong to have a heroine in her late 30s who is not a stick-figure? She is never presented as being 18 and neither is Herbert. I thought the presentation of a more mature couple in this movie to be sweet as well as more realistic.Of course, not enough can be said about Conrad Veidt's hypnotic portrayal of Ayan. Those who only know Veidt from his roles in Casablanca and the 1940 Thief of Bagdad are in for a treat: a chance to see the talented actor chew scenery as never before as the somewhat deranged Ayan. Bernhard Goetzke, who plays the holy man awoken by Ayan, is both elegant and intelligent. Lya De Putti as the Princess's servant is another independant female character.I was not as impressed with either Paul Richter or Erna Morena who play MacAllen and Savitri, respectively. Though in all fairness, neither were given as much to do as the other actors.The film may start a bit slowly but it is always intriguing and after the first half hour it is downright addictive. Unfortunately, I could not watch it all in one sitting (at over three hours, not many people could) It has been nicely restored with a great variety of color tinted scenes. Anyone who does not know how much tints can make a difference in a silent film should check this movie out for that reason alone. The soundtrack is synth but the music is period-accurate.This movie has gotten better with age and still packs quite a punch to an open-minded audience. As is usual with silents, the viewer needs a bit of time to get "acclimated" but don't let that stand in the way of your enjoying a glorious epic that deserves to finally get some recognition after 80 years."
For the starved movie lover, a feast!
terryhandsaraf | New Orleans, LA USA | 07/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is what DVD was invented for. This beautifully restored silent German spectacle is an unalloyed delight. The occasional fleck or jump is minor - it is bright, clean and beautifully detailed. Written by Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang, it has von Harbou's love of magic and pseudo-mysticism, and Lang's love of action, plot complications, and excitement. The gorgeous and elaborate sets deserve the old movie standby-adjective, "colossal". The German preoccupation with "stimmung"- emphasis on actors in relation to sets, lighting and design, is in evidence. It is said in Hollywood they lit the actors, in Germany they lit the sets, and the difference is telling. The look of the thing is stunning, and the atmosphere exotic and weird. A dream cast - Conrad Veidt, Bernhard Goetzke, Lya De Putti, Mia May, Paul Richter -is authoritatively directed by Joe May. Viewers who are not too "cool" to surrender themselves to the almost naive, headlong enthusiasm with which the picture was obviously made will have a splendid time. Elephants, telekinesis, cobras, resurrected yoghis, tigers, undying passions, alligators, it has it all. Extremely sophisticated filmmaking joined to an energetic love of spectacle and adventure. A great find, and a delight."
heddo | Maitland, FL | 11/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am actually watching the film on TV for the first time right now and it grabbed my attention instantly. The plot and characters are great but if that isn't enough to win you over to watch a silent black and white film then surely the musical score will. It adds drama and intrigue to all the right places and really adds depth to the story. And the sets are just beautiful. Watch out for those tigers Irene!!"
Exotic movie - Good DVD
Gagewyn | United States | 12/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of The Indian Tomb concerns an architect who is summoned to India to build a tomb for a prince's dead love. Since he has just been admiring the Taj Mahal and daydreaming of such an opportunity, he is putty. From the beginning things are creepy. The prince contacts him through a fakir who can transport himself across distances with the power of his mind. The fakir also uses this power to keep the architect from contacting his fiancee to tell her about the trip to India. He is always staring intensely and doing mental magic somewhere else. So we have this very creepy fakir. What is even worse is that we can tell that the fakir is very uncomfortable working for the prince (he is obligated to by tradition and magic). He even directly asks the prince to be released from his obligations.
The prince is great. He has a pit full of pet tigers and we get to see lots of close-ups of them eating meat and roaring. After he shakes hands with the architect he hesitates as if he is going to wipe his hand on his robe. Oh and the best part: That's the prince on the cover. But is that Lil Dagover being menaced by him? No chance that she could be the prince's love. Actually yes, she is the female lead and she doesn't love the prince. The prince explains to the architect that the tomb is for his love, which has died - not his love, who will die. From his character it isn't certain what he might do.
Meanwhile the architect's fiancee is tracking him down. Her woman's intuition has told her trouble is brewing. She ends up causeing as much trouble as she resolves. We don't care - she an the prince are the only ones making things happen.
This particular release of The Indian Tomb is good quality. It has color tinting and the image quality is good. There are some scratches etc, but over all it is good. There is music written for the film that ties into what is going on in the scenes. There aren't any extras on the DVD other than scene selection, but I was watching it for the movie and I liked what I got.
The sets here are great. The exotic Indian setting means we get to see lots of 20's renditions of temples and idols. This film also features elephants and tigers and alligators (supposed to be crocodiles). They put some money into this and it went where it is supposed to go - to the cool looking stuff.
This is a nice little gem and this release does it justice. It is worth taking a chance on if it sounds like something you might like. Buying this is also a vote for more obscure silent films to get released on DVD, so if you are into the genre that might be a consideration.
Libraries with closed video stacks probably shouldn't buy this. This film is not well known, and so it is unlikely that someone will specifically be looking for it. Thea Harbou, who wrote the script, and Conrad Veidt are likely the only routes by which someone would get to this in a card catalog. Libraries with open stacks should consider this DVD. There are some interesting things they are doing with film techniques, particularly how the fakir's telekinesis is shown, which are worth checking out. This is a very nice but not famous movie that someone who stumbles across could love (happened to me)."
Simply Splendid and Magnificent!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 11/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This amazing 4-hour German epic rivals any major Cecil B DeMille or other giant Hollywood production with its marvellous exotic sets, action and drama. In fact, for me this film has extra special appeal due to the supernatural element surrounding the mystical yogi and his powers, whose role actually underpins the entire story. The next major attraction for me are the often quite authentic-looking mogul palaces and Indian temples in this film. Having visited Rajasthan, India and viewed maharajahs' palaces, I was impressed by the work and attention to detail that went into creating the sets for this film. Therefore, visually I found this film most stunning due to its gorgeous Indian-style sets, especially the interiors, and musically, Eric Beheim has compiled the perfect orchestral accompaniment. Apart from these things, the story itself is unusual, unpredictable and of high quality - which one can expect from Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou; the latter's storywriting skills being behind famous classics such as "Metropolis" and "Spies". In this story, based on Thea von Harbou's novel, an Indian prince - brilliantly played by Conrad Veidt - is obsessed with revenge for his wife's unfaithfulness, and commissions an architect to build a tomb to match the Taj Mahal for the still-living princess kept prisoner in the palace. He lures the architect to India through his supernatural yogi servant, who is probably the most striking and enigmatic character in this story. Although it is a long film in two parts which progresses at a steady pace, I enjoyed every minute of it, and I'm sure anyone who appreciates a full and interesting story, particularly one set in exotic locations, will not be bored or disappointed either."