(aka "The Chess Players" )

 

directed by Satyajit Ray
India 1977

 

The short-story irony of two nawabs playing interminable games of chess while their domestic domains crumble, and of a king wrapped up in his aesthetic pursuits while his territory is threatened by British expansionism, is decked out opulently enough (notably a lavish recreation of 1856 Lucknow); but it pales beside that of Ray's inability to distinguish a historical film from a mere costume drama. This has its moments as a gentle comedy, with Saeed Jaffrey in good form, but its nudging metaphors on queens and pawns provide a facile analysis of colonial politics.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: India 10 March 1977

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Per-Olof Strandberg for the Review!

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:55:22
Video

1:1.33 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio Hindi; Urdu; English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English (partial), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1:1.33

Edition Details:
• Interview with Richard Attenborough (43:41 /1:1.78)
• Interview withSaeed Jaffrey (17:44 / 1:1.78)
• Satyajit Ray Production sketches ( 10 pages)
• Biographies
• DVD-9 (SS-DL)

DVD Release Date: 25 Jun 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 14

 

  

Comments:

There's something odd in the framing of this DVD. Some of the names in the credits are chopped off (it can't be intentional) and some picture compositions seems excessively tight. I believe that the OAR is 1:1.37 and the laboratory has roughly zoomed in the image to fit in 1:1.33, so that there's missing maybe 5 - 6 % in every corner. The transfer looks the same that has circulated in TV and on VHS the last ten years. The picture is unstable, making left to right movement, the contrast is too heavy, there's missing frames, many of the picture changes has a jump-cut (the last and first frame in the cut is fuzzy) and there's color bleeding. Though it's reasonably sharp overall. The cinema version run for approx. 121 minutes, so these is a genuine PAL transfer.

Normally I should say the the sound is just horrible, but in this case perhaps the original elements where as weak. There's a lot of dirt from the optical source, the narration in the beginning sounds far to boxed for a film from 1977. When there's limited sound, there's a strong hiss that is faded when someone is speaking (feels like the first wireless headphones in home-viewing). Are these limitations from a bad transfer or in the original elements? - I can't judge, presumably both.

India may not the best countries to preserve valuable material. These could easily be the best DVD transfer for the film ever, so it's inferior - take it or leave it. I should suggest that the film is worth buying, even though the source material isn't pristine.

 - Per-Olof Strandberg

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL




 

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