The Warrior

The Warrior

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As a first feature, written and directed by Asif Kapadia, who was born in Hackney and didn't go to India until he was 23, The Warrior is audacious. Kapadia took a crew of 250 into the deserts of Rajasthan, where you could fry an egg on a rock, and later to the foothills of the Himalayas, where seven layers of clothing were required to stop from freezing at night.

He used mainly untrained actors and wrote the script with Tim Miller, his senior tutor at the Royal College of Art in London. They shared an interest in magic realism and folk tales. Kapadia's true passion is for Westerns and what he calls "landscape films", short on verbal communication, rich on visual expression.

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The Warrior recreates the brutal traditions of the Rajputs, who ruled from isolated fort fiefdoms with a ruthlessness that would have been the envy of Bosnian Serb generals. If his subjects failed to provide the lord with his annual levy, because of drought or poor harvest, he beheaded their representative and sent assassins to raze their houses to the ground.

Lafcadia (Irfan Khan) is the leader of these warriors, who has a Damascus Road moment during the massacre of innocents and decides to pack it in and return to his village in the mountains. Kapadia's film is the story of that journey, as the repentant murderer is pursued by riders who have been ordered to "bring me the head of Alfredo Lafcadia".

The influence of Sergio Leone is everywhere, from Khan's brooding performance to the detritus of desertscape. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. The camera's eye captures a terrible beauty. The warriors are like The Wraiths from The Lord Of The Rings and Lafcadia has the white-robed presence of a prophet.

To call this an Eastern is too easy. It's more than that. It is a unique cinematic experience, created by a young British/Indian filmmaker who has the courage of his perception and an understanding that movies are a visual medium.

"I didn't want to make a small first film," he said. "Two people in a room didn't interest me."

They won't interest you, either, after this.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2001
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A repentant murderer is pursued through the mountains.
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Director: Asif Kapadia

Writer: Asif Kapadia, Tim Miller

Starring: Irfan Khan, Puru Chhibber, Sheikh Annuddin, Noor Mani, Damayanti Marfatia, Sunita Sharma

Year: 2001

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: India

Festivals:

EIFF 2001

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