DVD The Chess Players (DVD 12069),
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The Chess Players

  • NR
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Based on a short-story by the renowned Hindi writer Premchand, and directed by Indian film master Satyajit Ray, THE CHESS PLAYERS tells the story of the independent Indian kingdom of Awadh--ruled by the art- and music-loving King Wajid Ali Shah--that becomes threatened with the colonial aspirations of the British Empire and the devious machinations of a British General (Sir Richard Attenborough, JURASSIC PARK) eager to annex the kingdom.

    Meanwhile, two wealthy landowners, Mirza and Mir become obsessively involved in their endless chess games, seemingly oblivious to the chess-like moves being made all around them. Mirza and Mir come to represent the weakness and apathy of the Indian people (the film was made in 1977 during a major democratic crisis in modern India) as they ignore not only the political activity surrounding them, but also the sexual dissatisfaction of their wives, who both find new lovers. Using exquisite performances, and a perfectionist's eye for detail, Ray conjures a historical epic and tells a strange tale of a self-involved and emasculated people in danger of losing everything. As is frequently the case in the films of Satyajit Ray, there are no villains and there are no heroes, only meticulously imagined pawns in a grand historical and sociological game.
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  • Credits
    Saeed Jaffrey, Sanjeev Kumar, Victor Banerjee, Richard Attenborough, Richard Attenborough
  • Critic Reviews
    "Director Satyajit Ray takes on India's colonial past in a refined satire about an ambitious British general..." -- Grade: B
    Entertainment Weekly

    "Ray's first historical epic and a surprisingly adventurous film, one that breaks with the naturalism of his early work and imposes an explicitly allegorical structure."
    New York Times

    4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] sophisticated, wise and trenchant entertainment."
    Uncut

    "Ray's visually sumptuous, astute and surprisingly comic drama examines the British takeover of the Indian kingdom of Oudh in 1856..."
    Sight and Sound

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