A Throw of Dice

Among the many events marking the sixtieth anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan, there is a screening of Franz Osten’s 1929 Anglo-Indo-German film, A Throw of Dice, on 30 August, at 21.00pm, in Trafalgar Square. Live music will come from the London Symphony Orchestra, playing a new score by Nitin Sawhney.

It certainly sounds like an event to catch, even if the assertion on the India Now website that Franz Osten is “considered by many as one of the most talented directors of all time” will come as a surprise to most. It’s a proficiently told tale from the age of the Maharajahs, the print having come from the BFI National Archive, who approached Sawhney to provide the score. It’s also billed as that curious phenomenon of our times, “a digital restoration”. Osten, a German, made three silent films in India, on historical themes, with funding from the German Emelka studios, The Light of Asia (1926), Shiraz (1928) and A Throw of Dice (1929). They are all beautiful to look at, and stand up well without being particularly astonishing.

There are several other screenings of the film and score lined up, more details of which you can find on the Throw of Dice website. The later screenings are: Oct 26th Sage Gateshead, Oct 27th Bridgewater Hall – Manchester, and Oct 28th Symphony Hall – Birmingham, all with the Northern Sinfonia. A bold initiative, well planned by somebody – go and see it if you can.

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