After his long and prolific Hollywood career, Fritz Lang (M, Metropolis) returned to his native Germany at the behest of producer Artur Brauner and embarked on an ambitious two-film project that would eventually become known as his “Indian Epic.” The source material was the novel The Indian Tomb by Thea von Harbou, a book Lang had initially been hired to direct as a silent film in 1921, before being fired and replaced with Joe May. In the first of the two films, The Tiger of Eschnapur, Lang tells the story of a German architect (Paul Hubschmid) who arrives in India to build a temple for a Maharaja, whereupon the he promptly falls in love with the Maharaja’s intended bride (Debra Paget), whom he narrowly saves from becoming the titular tiger’s latest meal. Impeccably directed on a modest budget, en route to a thrilling cliffhanger ending, Lang’s late-career triumph proves the old adage that the enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
“In 1959, The Tiger of Eschnapur, per Fritz Lang ‘a cast-iron mass,’ defined and confirmed if necessary our convictions.”—Pierre Rissient
Image courtesy of CCC FILMKUNST/RIZZOLI/REGINA / THE KOBAL COLLECTION