The Chess Player (1927)

Article #534 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 9-1-2002
Posting date: 1-24-2003

When an eighteenth-century rebellion of Poles against their Russian captors fails, the leader of the rebellion finds himself under the protection of an inventor who tries to smuggle him out of the country concealed in a chess-playing automaton.

This combination of historical epic and period science fiction is epic in length; in runs just over two hours. Fortunately, it is a lot of fun, with plenty of spectacle, an interesting assortment of characters in interesting relationships, and some wonderful plot twists. There are some far-fetched coincidences in the story (particularly, the true parentage of the hero’s foster sister), but this is a minor quibble indeed and doesn’t really interfere with the fun. For science fiction fans, the best moment comes near the end, where the inventor’s many automatons play a crucial role in the proceedings.

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