Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Throw of Dice (1929) Film Review

Plot Summary - "A Romance of India", epic silent film from India about a love triangle between two kings and a beautiful young woman. King Sohat and cousin King Ranjit are on a tiger hunt - but they enjoy gambling more than hunting, so stop to play a game of dice. Evil King Sohat has meanwhile plotted to have the other king murdered so that, quote, "his kingdom will be mine". So while back on the hunt, King Ranjit is hit with a poisoned arrow, but is then taken to be saved by a nearby healer (who, coincidentally, was once Ranjit's teacher, but sought solitude in the jungle because of the king's addiction to gambling). The healer has a very beautiful daughter named Sunita, and King Sohat longs to have her. The healing ends up a success and Ranjit is soon back on his feet (much to the other king's distress) and in love with Sunita himself (what did you expect?!). A romance develops between Ranjit and the girl, but her father refuses to allow his daughter to marry him as he knows he is a "gambler". The two lovers run off together anyway, but meanwhile King Sohat continues his wicked ways by setting Ranjit up for a murder and later getting Ranjit to join him in the ultimate dice game, in which Sohat attempts to use a pair of trick dice to win all.

Review - A melodramatic and gorgeously atmospheric silent film, full of exotic locales and the lavish costumes of India, plus palaces, snake charmers, fire eaters, rides on the backs of elephants and camels, and alluring Indian dancing girls. The story is entertaining and moves fast. The Kino DVD of this features a terrific looking black and white print, so clear parts seemed like they were filmed yesterday. The orchestral score, composed by Nitin Sawhney, is rather magnificent for the most part, I must say. I thought the majority of the music enhanced the film quite well, and is nice enough to listen to that I think I could enjoy it even when not watching the film! A touch of Bollywood, silent film style. Rating - 8/10 stars

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