Back to the realm of pith helmets. The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935, directed by Henry Hathaway) stars Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Richard Cromwell, C. Aubrey Smith and Mischa Auer in an adventure tale set in India when still considered part of the British Empire. Gary Cooper is the lead to the three main players, a brotherhood formed during duty in Bengal. In the course of duty they confront mortal danger and conflicts of love and duty.
While this movie is an excellent adventure movie that does more witty exploration of the internal conflicts of soldiers than most of the time, it represents the colonialist perspective of the Empire and has a few strikes against it when viewed from a modern angle. Reputedly Adolph Hitler's favorite film (I guess one film had to have that unfortunate distinction). Shot in California, not India. Native Americans were hired from the nearby rez as extras to act as the tribesmen. Stiff British actors as Arabic chieftans. But still! A grand adventure story of its times that has something to say about hard choices and loyalty, when one of the three main characters (whose father happens to be the regimental commander) is taken hostage.
The British Raj
|Maharani Laxmi Bai|
The road to the independence of India was a long one. Mahatma Gandhi began his calling as an agitator for civil and social rights in 1911; India would not gain independence from Britain until 1947 after many failed attempts and tiny steps forward. Self-rule was finally granted to the region, and it was divided into India and Pakistan. Burma was also originally a part of the Empire but became independent in 1937.
The Khyber Region
|gratuitous Cooper pic|
Links and Sources
West Bengal, Official Site
From Empire to Independence, BBC
Durand Line, Wikipedia
British Raj, Wikipedia
Indian Rebellion of 1857, Wikipedia