The Indian Tomb (1959)

It’s odd to think that these two films aroused such critical animus back in the day; critics seemed offended that Fritz Lang had deigned to make such a big populist entertainment, as if he hadn’t spent pretty much his whole career doing just that (not just in his Hollywood period, either). And yet, with hindsight, it looks like incredible stuff; apparently one of Lang’s avowed reasons for making the film(s) was to demonstrate that this sort of thing could be done in Europe on a comparatively low budget ($1m for both films), and if nothing else he should be given credit for making over 200 minutes worth of film actually stand up to that length without sagging too much (which is really remarkable given that these aren’t the fastest films ever made). In the second film there are one or two saggy moments (and something bothers me about the character Rhode, or maybe it’s just the actor’s performance), but not enough to really spoil things, and it may have felt that way cos I’ve been watching it really late at night right after part one. In this one, our romantic couple find themselves recaptured by the Maharajah, who’s building a tomb to bury his erstwhile love in, while insurrectionary forces headed by his brother are building up their own head of steam; the trouble that the first film indicates is impending will erupt here. It’s not a masterpiece of high art, but neither was it meant to be, I suppose; in spite of that Lang treated this pulp exotica seriously and lavished production value and care all over the thing, and whatever money was spent on the films is there on the screen all the way through. These are fantastically handsome films. Even if the animal effects are generally thought to leave something to be desired (and not without some good reason), I’d still take this over most of the modern CGI blockbusters that are its descendants.

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