The next film to be shown by the Eastbourne Film Society at the Curzon Cinema is Shiraz: A Romance Of India.
It screens with seats for the public next Wednesday February 6 and offers audiences something out of the ordinary; anybody with an interest in India should not miss it.
This film from the silent era is a brand new restoration by the British Film Institute for which they commissioned a score from Anoushka Shankar. The daughter of great Indian musician Ravi Shankar, she was the ideal person to do this and her work adds greatly to the experience.
Nevertheless the prime appeal of Shiraz lies in its visuals which, in this restoration, can be seen at their best.
In the 1920s, Indian actor Himansu Rai conceived the idea of putting India on the cinematic map by setting up a co-production with Europe. Even so, the idea was to tell Indian stories drawing on Indian legend or history and featuring an authentic Indian cast. In creating Shiraz, which appeared in 1928, he was doing just that.
The film was conceived as a popular romantic tale and made by an experienced German director, Franz Osten, but most important of all was the decision to shoot entirely on location, for that means today we can see India in the late 1920s. This entertaining piece still stands as an awesome work of spectacle, but it is the opportunity it gives us to look back authentically at the India of 90 years ago which makes it truly special.
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