The Tiger of Eschnapur Screen 6 articles

The Tiger of Eschnapur


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  • A key work (albeit an off-key one) by a great director, Lang’s Indian diptych confounds most critical categories by playing both ends against the middle — yielding a deliberately “unsophisticated” film by one of the most sophisticated of all filmmakers, and one made without the slightest trace of condescension for its audience.

  • There's a sense in which certain late—often career-ending—movies by master directors form a meta-genre all their own . . . [They're] not just violently auteurist, they're breathtakingly blunt; like, this is what I know. Plot lines recede behind monumentalized tics, lifelong themes return with a geriatric intensity bordering heroically on the absurd. Fritz Lang's The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb belong to this much-maligned category.

  • The intended tone (camp?) is nearly impossible to pin down, and even in 1959, it looked old-fashioned. But what at first seems like kitsch becomes something more in the context of visual art—the colors are amazing—and film history itself. So if the appeal of this strange beast doesn't make sense to you, look back at some of the earliest silent adventure films, and you'll see how it's a film of rapturous nostalgia.

  • Like Georges Franju's re-appropriation of silent serial forms and motifs in his relatively contemporaneous feature film version of Judex (1963), the undisguised bareness of these films and the sheer directness with which Lang approaches the exoticism, the mysticism, and, most importantly, the construction of his film, carries it very carefully, very methodically into another place. That is a place of calm, a serene calm whose source of power is the mystery of the film

  • Throughout, Lang constantly endeavors to beguile and delight the eye, to inspire the viewer with a sense of wonderment--"childlike" wonderment, if you prefer, though the grand, harmonious symmetry of the film's design could only be the result of a lifetime's diligent artistic practice.

  • The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb are deceptively complex meditations on Lang’s favorite themes. . . . Lang’s career was still utterly compelled by his contemplations of ingrained human impulses towards violence, repression, despotism, and paranoia underlying surface social codes, and his incisive perspective was scarcely diluted by age. But he was still also an accomplished fabulist, a talent who constantly battled the dark side of his imagination and occasionally embraced the lighter.

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