Saturday, May 5, 2018


Seeta Devi loves a man with an addiction
in A Throw of Dice
"Beautiful though the scenes of India are in Throw of Dice, a Hindu silent film now at the Fifty-fifth Street Playhouse, this present offering is not comparable with that fine pictorial achievement Shiraz, the poetic tale of the Taj Mahal." -New York Times Review, January 6, 1930.
I had never heard of the movie Shiraz mentioned in the above review, but by the rave Shiraz received there and the fact that the British film Institute recently restored it made me think that the 1001 list may have chosen the wrong Franz Osten film.

That being said, it was interesting to see A Throw of Dice. It has great costumes, a cast of hundreds and lots of elephants. It is interesting that such a grand setting is basically wrapped around the simple story of two kings vying for the love of a beautiful woman. One of the kings is ruthless and the other has a gambling problem that the other king is willing to exploit for his own end. The fact that this silent epic was released after talking pictures had been established may have prevented it from being a greater success. -C. Cox, 1001: A Film Odyssey

Fast foward to 2008 after, A Thrown of Dice-
“There’s hardly a frame in the 1929 film  A Throw of Dice  that doesn’t provide a surge of visual pleasure. Produced by the German director Franz Osten and the Bengali lawyer and crusading nationalist Himansu Rai, the movie itself seems poised between two cultures, balancing the highly developed technique of German silent filmmaking and the rich iconography of Indian tradition. Jungles and palaces, elephants and tigers, princes in silk and servants in rags were photographed on location in Rajasthan and presented with the meticulous lighting, enveloping depth effects and rhythmic editing patterns of the Weimar cinema at its height.”-Dave Kehr, New York Times, July 15, 2008

Well, it only took about eighty years, but it looks like The Times finally got around to giving the movie a positive review! 

And next time I'm in New York, I definitely got to see see what is playing at The Fifty-Fifth Street Playhouse!

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