Where Forgotten Films Dwell

Welcome to this site! It exists for one reason: to preserve the memory of films that have been forgotten about or under-appreciated throughout the ages. Take a seat, read an entry, leave a comment. You might discover your new favorite movie!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Directed by Andrew Dominik
The United States of America

Is there any one figure from the American West who inspires so much awe and mystery as the legendary Jesse James? Bank robbery, train robbery, stagecoach robbery, murder…all of these things have been accredited to Jesse James’ crime spree in the West after his involvement in the American Civil War. He left behind him a legacy that endures to this day as one of the most romantic figures in American mythology. Some call him a modern day Robin Hood…even though there was no evidence of Jesse or his gang ever giving to the poor. Some call him a bloodthirsty criminal and outlaw…although some argue that he acted as an ex-Confederate insurgent drowning in the consolidation of Lincoln’s new Union. But whatever he truly was does not matter. Jesse James will live on as one of the most enduring symbols of the Wild West for as long as tales of cowboys and cattle drives survive.

The historical Jesse James

Probably because of his larger-than-life status, few films have ever tried to truly explore the man behind the legend. Filmmakers have always been content to depict Jesse as a kind of mythic figure. Many seem to even forget that he was wanted for over a dozen murders. Good or bad, Jesse James was always a hero.

At least until director Andrew Dominik got a hold of him. In 2007 Dominik released what may not only be one of the best examinations of Jesse James ever committed to film, but also one of the best character studies as well. Adapted from Ron Hansen’s book by the same title, Dominik holds Jesse James down under a microscope and scrutinizes every fine detail about who he was. The film has a title as wild as its subject: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Notice how the title doesn’t focus on Jesse James, but instead on the man who would go on to become his killer, Robert Ford. That is because the film isn’t told from Jesse James’ perspective, but by Ford. We first meet him outside of Jesse’s camp out in the woods where they are preparing for one last train robbery before they break up. Ford, who grew up idolizing Jesse, begs his brother Frank James to be allowed to participate. Eventually (and after much protest) Ford is accepted into the gang and strikes up a delicate relationship with Jesse. Ford lives to please Jesse, and Jesse seems content to receive such devotion and admiration. But buried inside of Jesse is a cruel form of resentment that bubbles its way out and passive aggressively lashes out at Ford. In time, the two become locked in a love/hate state of symbiosis. They both need each other. Ford needs Jesse’s approval and Jesse…well, it’s hard to really figure out why he needs Ford. But the need is there and ever present. That is what makes Ford’s eventual betrayal so powerful.

We watch their relationship develop as they plummet towards that fateful day of betrayal where Ford, while living in Jesse’s house with his family, kills him in order to collect the bounty on his head. In a sense, Ford acts as the audience’s surrogate. At first, we, as the audience, are fascinated by Jesse. But then, as we watch him crumble into the paranoid wreck that defined his last years on earth, we feel pity…and then an insidious resentment. When Ford at long last pulls the trigger and ends Jesse’s life, we feel a sigh of relief.

Once the deed is done, the legend of Jesse James explodes. Jesse’s cadaver is placed on display and Ford and Charley start a theater show in Manhattan where they re-create the assassination. Charley slowly succumbs to tuberculosis and guilt and eventually kills himself. Soon, Ford goes from being a hero to a pariah. He receives death threats, is called a coward, and is driven to alcoholism. It seems strange that so many people would spring to the defense of one of the greatest criminals in the history of the West. But the legend has taken hold. People don’t harass Ford in the name of Jesse James the man. Instead, they harass Ford in the name of Jesse James the legend. In a poignant scene in a bar, Ford listens to a musician sing a song glorifying Jesse James, calling him a good, kind man, and then vilifying the cowardly snake who mercilessly shot him. He stands and announces that he is Robert Ford. He collapses, and the bar falls quiet in silent judgment. The legend stands.

In fact, the entire focus of the film is fixated on the nature of legends and the mythology that surrounds certain people. Dominik uses a narrator to frame the entire film as a kind of dramatic history lesson, giving weight to every action of the characters. The cinematography, done by long-term Coen Brothers collaborator Roger Deakins, makes use of brown and black color palettes enhanced through a bleach bypass, making the entire film seem older and the color of flaxen wheat. Deakins also used wide-angle lenses mounted onto the front several cameras to create a blurred effect around the borders of the frame. In doing so, Deakins made the entire film feel like a series of ancient photographs come to life. Time-lapse sequences break up the action, reminiscent of Yasujiro Ozu’s “pillow shots,” and add a sense of uneasiness to the film. Occasionally the film will suddenly convert to black-and-white mid-shot, as if Dominik is teasing us and reminding us that we are watching a movie.

And last but not least, the film stars two of the greatest performances of the decade in the form of Brad Pitt as Jesse James and Casey Affleck as Robert Ford. Watching the film, I was struck by how similar both performances were in power and scope to Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. They don’t so much play their characters as they immerse themselves in them. Pitt may have given the performance of his career as the narcissistic, paranoid James. The performance is a masterpiece of subtlety and nuance (both of which Pitt is not usually known for) as he always gives a sinister impression that he knows more about the plot and his fellow characters than even the director did. When he asks questions, it feels like he already knows the answer and is just going through the motions for appearance’s sake.

And then there is Affleck. I can’t understand why his brother, Ben Affleck, is so much more famous than him. Casey is the superior actor in every single sense of the word. In this film, he plays an emotional wreck, constantly doubting himself and hiding behind nervous ticks. One wonders if Affleck utilized the method acting techniques made famous by Brando and De Niro. His performance is also magnificently physical. A twitch of the hands, a spasm of facial muscles, and an uncontrolled blink carry more weight and power than even his best lines. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but would go on to lose to Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. While Bardem’s win is not unjustified, it still feels inappropriate as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford would go home at the end of the night empty-handed.

And this begs the question, why is this film so obscure if it is anywhere near as good as I have described it? Possibly because the film had the misfortune of being released the same year as two other Western themed movies by much more prominent directors (There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men). Perhaps many were turned off by its two and a half hour running time. But there is a strange part of me that wonders if maybe people didn’t want to see it because they didn’t want to take part in the defamation of Jesse James’ legend. But who am I kidding? Poor distribution and inferior advertising probably killed this film in the box office. But recently I have noticed a strange trend among my fellow movie lovers: it is slowly gaining popularity and renown. As well it should be. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of the great modern Westerns. It is a story of desire, selfishness, sin, and regret. It isn’t so much of a movie as it is a miracle.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Editor's Note: Next Three Reviews

Well, howdy folks!

It sure feels great to be back after my hiatus. Big thanks again to S.M. Rana and Jack L. for graciously writing guest reviews!

Also, I was amazed to see how many new followers I have!

Hello to all of you! Thank you SO much for subscribing! I hope you enjoy this site!

Anyway...as you may have noticed...IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!

Unfortunately...that means that I will be on a plane for most of Saturday...

So, my next update will be on Friday.

I am very excited to announce that my next three reviews will all share a common theme:


That's right, folks! The next three reviews will be of that great cinematic genre of the Western! Now, I realize that I have already listed SEVERAL Westerns on this site...but there are so many other great Westerns that deserve attention.

So, saddle up, folks!

It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Nathanael Hood

Saturday, December 18, 2010

盜馬賊 (The Horse Thief)

Directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang

On a frigid Tibetan mountaintop, a flock a vultures descend upon a freshly deceased corpse. With heads stooping below their wings, they snatch and chew the rotting flesh with razor beaks. Some extend their wings and bicker with their neighbors. Soon, all that will remain is a clean-picked skeleton. To outsiders, the vultures are filthy scavengers desecrating a grave. To the local Tibetans, they are part of a solemn ritual called a “sky burial.” The vultures are not seen as filthy creatures, but spiritual beings called Dakinis (sky dancer). By eating the flesh of the recently deceased, they spirit the newly departed soul up to heaven where it awaits reincarnation into their next lives. It is a gruesome spectacle, but one tinged by respect and holy reverence. For the sky burial represents more than just death, it signifies the first step towards rebirth.

So one might ask why such a scene is the first thing we watch in Tian Zhuangzhuang’s The Horse Thief. The easy answer would be to say that it represents the nature of living in the Tibetan mountains: stark and strangely beautiful. It is a land where the brutal tasks of everyday life reflect themselves in the calloused faces and bodies of its inhabitants. It is a land where the sound of grazing cattle mixes with Buddhist chants and mantras. Truly, to live in the Tibetan mountains is to live in another world, far away, and yet so similar to our own. For while we can’t identify with the Tibetan lifestyle of raising cattle, squeezing stubborn crops out of the ground, and following strict Buddhist doctrine, we can relate to the heart of this world: family and community.

For the love of one’s family and community lie at the heart of this masterful film. It juxtaposes the sweeping vistas and Tibet with intimate details of family life. One family, in particular, is focused upon in The Horse Thief. That family is led by Norbu, a devout Buddhist, a devoted family man, and a horse thief. Late at night, he creeps into neighboring areas and steals their horses. The profit he gains from his crimes are used to provide food and shelter for his beautiful wife, Dolma, and their incessantly cheerful young son, Tashi. When he returns to his home and greets his family, one wonders if they are aware of his activities and how he keeps providing income in the midst of a famine. But if they wonder, they don’t care. They are too important to each other. Much more than their meager abode, they provide comfort and shelter from the ravages of the outside world.

But times are proving to be especially difficult this year. It is 1927, year of revolution in China when millions of peasants rebelled against their landlords. China is just on the cusp of occupying Tibet, which is undergoing an intense famine. Life has become so difficult for Norbu that he ends up stealing from the local Buddhist temple. As a result, his family is banished from their clan. Hardship leads to hardship. There is no food. Soon, Tashi dies. In the midst of their terrible grief, Dolma gives birth to another son. Determined that this son will survive, he tries to reform himself. However, he is accused of stealing horses again and is thrown out of the community for a second time.

It is a rough, devastating story. Simply told, yet elegantly expressed, the majority of the plot is told through the visuals with little to no dialogue. Primarily, the film seems concerned with three things: life within Norbu’s family, Buddhist ceremonies and rites, and the vast countryside. Zhuangzhuang alternates between these three subjects with the hypnotic grace of Terrence Malick and Andrei Tarkovsky. In fact, in many cases the narrative seems to take a backseat to the visuals which evoke a lifestyle in and of itself. Zhuangzhuang seems more concerned with painting a portrait of Tibetan life with Norbu’s family as a focal point that the audience can relate to.

That isn’t to say that the film is dull or sterile. The Horse Thief’s greatest accomplishment is its ability to affect its audience and create sympathy for Norbu and awe for his home. It is a genuine work of humanism.

But what the audience must also feel in viewing this film is an enormous sense of gratitude that it was even made. Zhuangzhuang had always been an iconoclastic troublemaker ever since he graduated from a state sponsored film school. He would continuously get into trouble for his films, more notoriously for his examination of the Cultural Revolution in his masterpiece The Blue Kite (1993). In an attempt to control (and possibly stifle) his rebellious spirit, authorities sent Zhuangzhuang to schools deep in the Chinese countryside where it was believed that he would be less outspoken. However, this attempt backfired magnificently, as the lack of government oversight in the outskirts of China allowed Zhuangzhuang to experiment with narrative form and content that would be frowned upon by the authorities. Even worse, he chose to focus his film on the people of Tibet, a topic notorious for drawing ire from Chinese censors. In many respects, it seems like Zhuangzhuang went out of his way to create a film that was as challenging and provocative towards the Chinese censors as possible.

Zhuangzhuang was rewarded for creating this staggering work of art by being challenged by the authorities and having the film banned. It is said that in all of China, less than ten prints of the film were circulated. But by some miraculous happenstance, the film made it out of China and into the West where, along with Zhuangzhuang’s other banned films, it was able to receive the acclaim and praise that it deserved. In just one telling example of the film’s impact, director Martin Scorsese named it the best film of the 1990s (as it wasn’t until over four years after its creation that it managed to be seen in the West). Truly, China’s loss was our gain.

So now, at the end of the film, we return to the shots of vultures descending on a corpse. It begins quite like it started, with a sky burial. What does this represent? A cyclical nature of life? Does this movie suggest that Norbu’s fate would be repeated over and over again by other families? Or perhaps it represents the endlessness of life in Tibet. Men might die, horses might be stolen, and Buddhist temples might be built and dissolve back into the earth, but the Tibetan mountains remain, harsh and eternal to all who seek them.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guest Review: Peeping Tom

Directed by Michael Powell
Great Britain

Director Michael Powell and his frequent collaborator Emeric Pressburger (known as The Archers, they co-directed, co-produced and even co-wrote many films) are in my opinion some of the best British directors, with such amazing films as Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes to their names.

Powell was always more associated with the direction of the films, and Pressburger with the scripts, and while that is generally how they worked they did pretty much everything as a duo.

After many years of working together and having raised their names alongside other great British directors such as David Lean and Carol Reed, they parted ways to explore different projects, Emeric Pressburger continued writing scripts for many years and Michael Powell directed Peeping Tom, one of the most infamous films of its time. This film effectively ended his career as it was almost universally panned and labeled as pornographic, which is absurd.

Although Powell did direct about five other films, they were mainly failures due to the bad reputation caused by this film and his career was entirely finished by the early 1970's.

Over the years it has been forgotten and even ignored, but recently Peeping Tom has been restored and more and more people are recognizing it for the masterpiece of film making that it truly is.

So now 50 years after it was released, misunderstood and then forgotten, I watched this magnificent film and present my review.

Before watching this film I saw Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes to familiarize myself with the directors style of film making and obviously because they are amazing films, but I would say that Peeping Tom had far more of an effect of me than the aforementioned films. Now this is probably because it deals with film making, in a very unique and sometimes disturbing way.

I aspire to become a director and I'm sure many of you reading this do as well, if you do then I would strongly recommend this film, it is unique in its subject matter and the way it represents film making.

Peeping Tom was released the same year as Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho, and as both films deal with deranged young men with a penchant for murdering young women, they have been compared to one another often, some have even gone so far as to call Peeping Tom, The British Psycho. I find the similarities to be rather superficial and the comparison slightly puzzling as Psycho boosted Hitchcock's career while Peeping Tom had the reverse affect for Powell.

In my opinion, Peeping Tom is an even better character study then Psycho. Peeping Tom tells the story of a young English man named Mark Lewis, the first scene is from his point of view, we see him murdering a prostitute, while filming the crime with his camera. This opening scene grabs the viewers attention and starts the film perfectly but it's not until the next scene that the character of Mark is truly developed and revealed, we see him watching his film of the murder later at home, in a room especially designed for this purpose.

So we are introduced to a murderer who is obsessed with his camera and never puts it down, he films the events that unfold throughout the film, the various murders, the police investigation, the conclusion to the case...When questioned he claims he's making a documentary. And he is, but it's a very disturbing one.

I won't go any deeper into the plot, it is very cleverly written and original, as well as providing a view into Cinema that was unseen before.

The two aspects of the film that really elevate this film into an excellent character study and a original view on cinema, are Carl Boehm performance and Powell'a distinct style of film making.

Carl Boehm with the camera, one of the best and most original killers in cinema.

Carl Boehm's expert performance really makes the character memorable and separates him from the countless other killers in film.

Many have complained about his strong German accent even though he plays an Englishman, but I personally wasn't bothered by it much at all. His performance is captivating in its creepiness, yet it is not an all out horrible performance as Mark Lewis is a complex character, I found myself pitying him several times throughout the film and that, I think, is due to Boehm's wonderful performance.

The rest of the cast was good, nothing spectacular though, they were all overshadowed by Boehm's performance, Moira Shearer was good but nowhere near as great as in The Red Shoes, Anna Massey was also good as the innocent young Helen.

The distinctive opening sequence is one you won't forget in a hurry.

Powell was obviously a talented director and one of Britain's best.
While this film doesn't have the swooping grandeur of Black Narcissus nor the fantastical imagery of The Red Shoes, it is still very well shot, the atmosphere was just perfect and the opening sequence seen through the killers' camera is extraordinary.

Another scene that really stood out for me, was the scene in which Helen views one of Marks' films for the first time and come to realize some dreadful truths, instead of showing the screen like most directors would in an effort to shock the audience, all we see is Helen's face and varying expressions as she watches.

The rest of the film often varies between "normal" footage and scenes obviously shot by Mark, these scenes are often subtly disturbing and bring the films title to mind instantly.

I think that the uncomfortable feelings that are sometimes provoked by this film and the reasons it was so hated upon its release, would be because it present cinema in an ugly almost dirty way, it makes the audience feel like voyeurs, like Peeping Tom's, and people reacted strongly to this.

But I do think that these aspects of Cinema and film making should not be ignored just because they are distasteful, I think Cinema and voyeurism are in some ways similar, as a member of an audience we are watching peoples’ lives and stories unfold before us while we watch passively. Of course they are portrayed by actors and are often fictional, but I think the subject deserves some thought. As does the invasive aspect of the camera, in this film for example victims are filmed in their last moments of life and even as they die, this footage is captured on film and can be kept forever by this sinister killer, this is the dark side of Cinema, Mark is constantly filming all that takes place, people naturally assume that it's an innocent project but they do not know where this footage will end up and what purpose it will serve, you never can be sure were footage of you will end up.

But the film isn't really a massive technical achievement; I think that could partly be blamed on the harsh censuring it was subjected to on its release. This causes the film to have a rather rough feel to it, as many scenes were shortened and some dialogues are even cut of abruptly.

The Character of Mark Lewis:
What really makes this film interesting, is the complex character of Mark Lewis, and any review of the film wouldn't be complete without elaborating on this point as without it the film wouldn't be half as good.

Mark comes across as a timid and eager-to-please young man, but also as an extremely lonely one, he is very socially awkward.

Much of his disturbances and strange behavior stems from his relationship with his father, this aspect of the film has been widely praised (by more recent viewers of course) and is most interesting from a psychological point of view.

I really liked this shot, I'm not exactly sure why though, maybe it's because of the way the projection on Marks back resembles a skull....

So the character of Mark Lewis really stands alone as far as killers in film go, in my opinion. He is easily one of the most complex and ultimately pitiable.
Yet he is not a entirely evil being as some villains in films are, he is the product of a disturbing childhood and extreme loneliness, but it is evident throughout the film that there is the capacity to do good still in him, this is evident mainly in the scenes with Helen, and most of it is thanks to Carl Boehm's wonderfully intense performance.

Peeping Tom is not a film anyone will enjoy, but I think it is compulsory viewing for anyone aspiring to be a director or to just to express themselves through film. As Martin Scorsese (who is a great admirer of this film and played a large part in restoring it's popularity) points out: "I have always felt that Peeping Tom and say everything that can be said about film-making, about the process of dealing with film, the objectivity and subjectivity of it and the confusion between the two. captures the glamour and enjoyment of film-making, while Peeping Tom shows the aggression of it, how the camera violates... From studying them you can discover everything about people who make films, or at least people who express themselves through films"

I highly recommend it. It's a very interesting film that deals with fear, violence, insanity and voyeurism. Needless to say there are not many others like it!

(Many people seem to think of this film as a Horror film, I think of it more as a critique of Horror films, as Horror directors cause deaths (false ones of course) in attempts to frighten the audience, but here Mark causes deaths while at the same time frightening victims (you'll find out how when you see the film) and recording their fear. So even if Horror isn't a genre you enjoy (as is my case) then I would still recommend watching this.)

Editor's Note: My great thanks to Jack L. for writing this review. If you would like to read more of Jack's work, check out his amazing blog:


The entire film can be watched for free on youtube at the following link:


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guest Review: Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players)

Directed by Satyajit Ray

The only movies I can remember which made me laugh more than this one-actually laugh, not smile or snigger-are Chaplin's Circus and the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. Of course this film is far more refined, like a different blend of tea.

The film takes place in Lukhnow, 1856, a year before the anti-colonial uprising. Kite strings entwine in the sky, cocks fight to the death, rams exchange blows, and the crowds yell and scream. Lukhnow; the city of nawabs, Shiraz-e-Hind, the Constantinople of the East, birth place of Naushad (renowned Bollywood composer) and Begum Akhtar (a vocalist). It is the city of Kathak and Thumri (a dance form and traditional music genre respectively), pulao, biryani, kababs--"the garden, granary and the queen of provinces". This film is as much about the city as it is about its characters.

The province of Avadh, in which the city lies, was at the time being "ruled"-the British sword is sheathed but ever ready-by Nawab Wajid Ali Khan. He is played by Amjad Ali Khan in his finest performance. One wonders if this man is really Gabbar, the death spewing snake of Sholay, whose dialogues are now proverbs. In the hands of director Satyajit Ray, Amjad is transformed into an effete, dance loving, poetry composing, bemused Wajid Ali Shah, born to be a puppet-king, if king at all. He maintains a harem of 400 concubines, loves kite flying, and dresses up as a Hindu god and dances with the girls in raas-leela. He has many "muta" (Persian for pleasure) wives which he keeps for three or thirty days. Despite this, he says his prayers five times a day, won't touch a drop of wine, composes poetry of exquisite delicacy, and is the patron-founder of the lauded Lukhnow school of kathak (a classical Indian dance ), of which we are treated to an exquisite performance in the course of the film. Watching the dance, the Nawab's eyes moisten and lumps form in his throat. He is a true aesthete, if ever there was one. Consequently, he also is unfit to rule, as the British General Outram (played by Richard Attenborough) astutely observes.

Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Sayeed Jaffrey) are two local hereditary landlords who live off their taxes. They pass their lives in blissful idleness, chewing pan and smoking their hookahs. Quite in love with life and themselves, they flit from diversion to diversion--having currently made chess the centre of their lives--and, as chilum follows chilum, the comrades straddle the board from morn to eve, much to the discomfiture of at least one of their wives.

Mirza's shrewd and lovely wife is inimitably portrayed by Shabana. It is incredible to see Shabana, future parliamentarian and activist for women's rights, smoking a hookah! Bringing range and nuanced perfection to her role, Shabana loses herself in the performance while retaining perfect control. Farida Jalal, as the second wife, cuckolds Mir Sahib, who is far too stupid and trusting or unwilling or uninterested to know what is going on right under his nose. The Mirza's uncontrollable fit of laughter as he rolls up in spasm after spasm after spasm, all while being amazed at his friend's naiveté, is an absolutely incredible feat of acting, never seen in the annals of cinema.

Frustrated at being neglected on account of the game, the Mirza's own wife contrives to hide the chess pieces. After hilariously desperate endeavours to find another set, even taking them to the house of a dying attorney, they finally settle on continuing their game using vegetables such as tomatoes and onions as chess pieces. Outwitted, Shabana angrily hurls the pieces at the friends. They decide to shift the game to the Mir's place, where we are treated to another comic interlude of cuckoldry.

Meanwhile, a bigger game is in progress. Lord Dalhousie, the governor-general in Calcutta, sends General Outram (Attenborough) to Luckhnow with clear orders to take over the administration of the province. Veena, as the Queen Mother, Victor Banerjee, as the Prime Minister, and Tom Alter, as the urdu speaking aide de camp Captain Weston, all give indelibly memorable performances. Veena particularly, as the betrayed and wounded mother of Wajid Ali, is marvellous in her defiant yet fore-doomed cry for justice, to Queen Victoria and to heaven.

Finally, the chess friends retreat to a hovel in the countryside to pursue their game in peace. They quarrel over the game and, already in bad humour because of mosquitos and lack of a light for his smoke, one taunts the other about the doings of his unfaithful wife. Angered Mir Sahib fires his pistol.

As the gun explodes, we are treated to a panoramic sight of a rag-tag British force---cavalry, infantry, bullock carts, elephants, camels, muskets---on their way to take over Lukhnow. Deadly enough, come to think of it.

This gunshot reminds me of the plop of the stolen necklace in Pather Panchali as it sinks into the algae caked water of the village pond. It is an inspired moment and marks the conclusion of one era and the start of another. This ability to condense a lifetime into a single moment of sublime symbolism is one of the delights of this director.

"How can we, who couldn't manage our wives, face the British,” rues Mir Roshan Ali. They continue their game, waiting for the cover of darkness to sneak home.

The film is less about politics and history than about the confrontation of civilizations. Ray, with his oriental heart and western intellect, is well qualified to tackle this theme. It bears repetition that not one but each of the seven leading actors have given performances of amazing fluidity and power. Certainly no one who understands Hindi or Urdu should die without seeing this movie twice.

The peaks of this film are too many to single out. The Chess Players is a Himalayan achievement in the annals of Indian cinema, deserving more accolades than it has received.

Written by my dear friend S. M. Rana.
You can read more of his work at his blog Onlyne, at http://smrana.blogspot.com/

The film can be watched in its entirety on youtube.