XL Popcorn – A Throw of Dice

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 867/1009Title: Prapancha Pash (A Throw of Dice)
Director: Franz Osten
Year: 1929
Country: Germany/India

When the 1001 list was first made back in 2003, A Throw of Dice was still languishing in semi-obscurity and so was not featured. Between then and the last major overhaul in 2013, this film was digitally restored and a new soundtrack penned for a festival in order to mark Indian Independence. These acts, and the subsequent pulling out of the archives, pushed it back into the timeline of cinema history and it became the earliest new entry ever made on a revised version of the 1001 list.

This is very early Indian cinema and, due to the German director, it straddles the worlds of Hollywood and what would later be found in Bollywood. The cinematography and the art direction are sheer decadence set in real life locales that D.W. Griffith could only make a facsimile of in his gigantic sets for Intolerance. Great crowd scenes and costumes that would later become a Bollywood staple, but with a story that is sadly paper thin.

A Throw of Dice is not a film you watch for plot – in fact you could argue that the bulk of the plot happens in the first and final 10 minutes of the film, the intermediate hour being mostly eye candy with plot beats thrown in here and there. The biggest attractions are it being a visual and, thanks to the amazing soundtrack Nitin Sawhney wrote for the 2006 re-release, audio beauty. It’s an interesting film to see some of the roots of what would later become Indian cinema, but that’s really about it.

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