The Chess Players

Famed for its sophistication and faded splendors, the “golden city” of Lucknow provides the perfect backdrop for Ray's first historical film, a wry elegy set in an 1850s India on the brink of English rule, and shot in an appropriately sumptuous Technicolor. More concerned with personal pleasure than political spheres, two oblivious landowners take refuge in games of chess, little noticing that both they and their country are about to become pawns for an entirely different kind of king and queen. Richard Attenborough and the Bollywood actor Amjad Khan star in this gorgeously decadent and ironic work, filled with music, dance, sets, and costumes lovingly re-created from the era. For The Nation, “The Chess Players is a masque of a film, in which every gesture, every detail of dress and habitation, is intended to delight your eye.”

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