Movies

The Indian Tomb (1959)

As promised here is my review of #984, The Indian Tomb. This is a German movie set in India about this man who’s pretty angry that the woman he loves is in love with another man. He hires an architect to build a tomb in which he can throw her in until she presumably withers away and dies. I originally fell asleep to this movie several times, but I did manage to eventually fumble my way through it to the end.

I said in my last TSPDT post that this movie was cringe worthy so let me get right into the good stuff. You might have noticed that I said this was a German movie set in India. Does that mean it was made by Germans and featured actual Indian actors? No. This movie has so much, for lack of anything else to call it, brown face in it that I could barely watch. The “man” I referenced in my detailed summary that’s building the tomb is supposed to be a Maharajah which is an Indian king or ruler. He was played by an Austrian born man who wore brown makeup to give him that authentic Indian look. The “woman” is also supposed to be Indian and is played by an American. She wears slightly less brown makeup but Indian she is not.  Their wardrobe was absolutely gorgeous though. Take a look  for yourself and tell me that isn’t some great costume work.

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Before I move on from these character, I have to point out that the woman reads her lines in English. However, all her lines are dubbed over in German which seems to be a common practice in European movies. So if you’re following along, that makes her an American playing a German playing an Indian. I shouldn’t let that bother me so much, but wow it really did. I couldn’t get into this movie when every time I look at one of the characters I know how fake it is.

While I’m on the subject of fake. Let’s dive into that… special scene where the woman, Seetha, is forced to dance in front of a snake. Here’s a slideshow of the “snake” in all its glory. It really is something special.

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Don’t get mad at me for critiquing an effect from the late 50s. I’m not expecting a majestic fully functional snake replica. What I was expecting was them to at least edit out the wires!

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That whole scene is just too hilarious for me to take seriously. She dances in front of this snake for minutes in what can barely be described as clothes. It amounts to a set of boob covers, a female genitalia cover and a butt cover. I’m thinking maybe the snake held off attacking because he was trying to figure out what she was doing. In all honesty, I spent the whole scene wondering how they kept those things stuck to her skin. Then just when you think she’s tamed the paper mache beast, her ankle bracelet comes unclasped and she kicks it off, which, as everyone knows, is the one thing that angers snakes the most. But since this is only the middle of the movie, she’s saved from a mouth full of deadly paper cuts.

With all these TSPDT movies I watch I try to figure out why they make it onto the list. This movie has a 100% on rotten tomatoes and a 6.8/10 rating on IMDB. It’s based on a novel and was the second of two movies that were both filmed by Fritz Lang. He is a renowned directer who, at this point in his life, had been directing films for 40 years. It’s an ambition epic tale with some beautiful locations, and as mentioned earlier amazing costumes. Now I haven’t seen the first movie in the set, but this one actually holds its own as a stand alone. The plot makes enough sense that you don’t need to have seen the first to follow along. It has a good story and the pacing isn’t too bad. I think for those reasons it earned its place on the list. If you can tolerate the bad effects, dubbing and cringe worthy makeup then this might be something you can enjoy. Otherwise, maybe just watch it with some friends to have a few good laughs. Finally, if there’s any movie that needs to be remade in Hollywood today, it’s this. If they could get real Indian actors, clean up the effects and keep the story and locations I would definitely go to see it.

Verdict: 7/10

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