Proving that everything really does depend on your point of view, Indian director Murali Nairs film Throne of Death presents capital punishment as an honor bestowed on a lucky few. Throne of Death, which was awarded the Caméra dOr at Cannes in 1999, is a scathing satire centered on the life and death of Krishnan, a poor farmworker. Unable to feed his family, he attempts to steal a few coconuts but is caught and imprisoned. Since hes already in jail, authorities decide to charge him with an unsolved murder as well, a crime that carries the death penalty. Throughout, Krishnan and his family are resigned to his fate, stoically accepting this injustice as they have every other in their downtrodden existence.
But local politicos see Krishnans death sentence as an opportunity to prove that India is moving into the modern age, thanks to their new Electronic Chair. Touted as delivering a humane, painless death, the Electronic Chair is seen as a means to a glorious death. Naive villagers and uncaring government leaders campaign to have Krishnan be the first in the country to be given the honor of dying in the Electronic Chair.
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The film is in Malayalam with English subtitles. Todays screening, which will be followed by a reception, kicks off the Festival of Contemporary Films from India that follows in early November. 7 p.m. Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713‑348‑4882 or visit www.ricecinema.rice.edu. Free.
Wed., Oct. 5, 7 p.m., 2011