Film review | The Black Prince

Historical film sagas covering monumental struggles and gargantuan historical figures are encapsulated in classics such as Lawrence of Arabia and Ghandi.

WORLDS COLLIDE: Maharaja Duleep Singh cut a surprising figure in 19th century Britain, where he tried to re-establish his right to the throne of Punjab, but The Black Prince attempts to cram too much onto the screen.

WORLDS COLLIDE: Maharaja Duleep Singh cut a surprising figure in 19th century Britain, where he tried to re-establish his right to the throne of Punjab, but The Black Prince attempts to cram too much onto the screen.

The Black Prince is the same sort of historical concoction, based on Maharaja Duleep Singh’s attempts to reclaim his position as heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Punjab in the late 1880s.

Singh embodies the struggle of a nation to oppose the encroachment of the British Empire, and subjugation of its people.

A major consideration for a director of epic struggles is trying to compress the vastness of the events into a two-hour movie.

The Black Prince attempts to cover everything from Duleep Singh’s father’s reign over Punjab in the late 1800s, his enthronement as king of Punjab after his father’s death, subsequent abduction at an early age by British forces and eventual relocation to Britain, and finally his reconversion to Sikhism and attempt to reclaim independence for Punjab.

I’m exhausted just considering the scope of it all.

Ultimately, that is the main issue with The Black Prince. In its attempt to cover every single aspect of the timeline of history, corruption, betrayal, and emotions, it is unable to cover any of them in significant detail.

Any one of them could be made into a film on its own.

The film resorts to voice overs from an unseen narrator and the principal character’s, Duleep Singh’s, recollections.

The ultimate result is a film that tells more than it reveals about what happens, all delivered in an even manner without peaks and low points.

The script needed a script doctor.

The production is immense and the production values are fabulous.  The costumes, sets and locations are lavish. It appears that no expense has been spared in recreating a sense of the late 1880s in Britain and India.

An enthralling and dynamic historical and political story comes across as if it was something that just eventually happened with not a great deal of sacrifice.

It is presented in a sedate manner despite talk of rebellion and blood being spilt.

We are enticed with the promise of intrigue, politics, emotions, and bloodshed. We receive a history lesson delivered through dialogue rather than actions.