BOMBAY CHAPTER: Mohile Parikh Centre for Contemporary Culture (MPC3), Bombay
March 25th , 2005
7.00 pm

VIENNA CHAPTER: Kuenstlerhaus, Vienna
May 22nd, 2005
4.00 pm

BERLIN CHAPTER: House of World Cultures, Berlin
August 12th, 2005
8.00 pm

Film Lecture:
The Eschnapur Heritage. On the Trail of the Tiger of Bengal. One Film, Three Versions – and an adventurous reception history

Few films have shaped Germany’s perception of India as profoundly as the three “Der Tiger von Eschnapur” movies. Filmed in 1921 under the direction of Joe May, in 1938 under the direction of Richard Eichberg and again in 1958 by Fritz Lang, the three “Tiger” versions tell variations on a rather florid and somewhat creepy story about love, intrigue and architecture on the Indian subcontinent. In the 1921 and 1938 versions, a European architect who is commissioned to work at the court of the Maharaja of Eschnapur witnesses the amorous entanglement of an Indian dancer with a British engineer. In the 1958, the architect is distinctly German and he himself falls in love with the bride-to-be of his host, a temple dancer who happens to be half-European Lang’s “Der Tiger von Eschnapur” is a sequel to “Das indische Grabmal” (The Indian Tomb), a film based on the eponymous novel by Thea von Harbou, which in turn was supposedly based “on a factual report from India.” All three versions of “Der Tiger von Eschnapur” were mercilessly destroyed by the critics but became great popular successes nonetheless, which begs a number of questions with regard to the films’ reception history. How was it possible for the “Tiger” films to gain such a hold on the popular imagination in Germany? And why was it precisely this film that became the object of a major controversy in India centering on the racist depiction of the country and its people in European films? Meenakshi Shedde and Vinzenz Hediger will address these issues in their contribution through an analysis in dialogue form drawing on excerpts from all three films.

Meenakshi Shedde is a free-lance author and film critic in Bombay. She works as an advisor on Indian cinema for major international film festivals, including the Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals. In 2000, she received the international “Best Film Critic of the Year” award.

Vinzenz Hediger worked as a film critic for a major Swiss newspaper during the nineties and is now a professor of film and media studies at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. Until the end of 2004, he was on the board of trustees of the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia where he was responsible for visual arts and the cinema.

 

 

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