The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin Image

The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin

By Alan Ng | October 8, 2022

We’ve talked a lot lately about the general thirst for telling new stories and how Hollywood continues to rehash the same plot over and over again. As an alternative, consider writer-director Mira Davitaia’s The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin, a 12th-century Georgian tale from poet Shota Rustaveli.

The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin is the story of the young Indian Prince Tariel (Giviko Baratashvili). Tariel is a great general on the field, and from afar, he has captured the heart of Princess Nestan (Manika Asatiani). Though in their first meeting, the lovebirds were tongue-tied, the pair would soon profess their love for one another.

Meanwhile, to maintain peace, the King pledged his daughter Nestan to a neighboring kingdom’s prince in marriage. Nestan is distraught that she is being married off, as Tariel just sits there and watches it happen. Then, in a moment of rage, Tariel murders Nestan’s intended prince resulting in her being exiled and cut off from the world, while he is forced to flee into the wilderness to escape the King’s justice. For his love for Nestan, Tariel dresses in tiger skin as a reminder of her beauty.

“In a moment of rage, Tariel murders Nestan’s intended prince resulting in her being exiled…”

First, when you don’t have a big studio throwing cash at you, you must become resourceful to tell such an epic tale of The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin. Though filmmaker Davitaia shot his film with actors on a set, he then digitally converted the footage to an animated feature using a rotoscope filter and intentionally reduced the film’s frame rate. Now the director is able to transform his simple set into an ornate palace, take his adventure to exotic locations, and transport us back in time on a reasonable budget.

Even with the rotoscoping, The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin feels like an animated feature, both good and bad. I will also admit that I’m applying very U.S. standards to a foreign film, which may feel unfair. Running at 112 minutes, the pacing is plodding. The dialogue needed to be streamlined, removing innocuous exposition, and the transition to the murder and its aftermath could move more quickly. The dialogue translation also leaves a lot to desire as it comes off as sounding very fairytale romance.

Again, I’m applying local standards to an international film. Though slow-paced, the storytelling is on par with legends of old from that region. Also, I need to applaud the independent spirit of filmmaking from Mira Davitaia. Making a period film with a low budget is difficult, but the results here are miraculous.

Ultimately, The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin gets a mixed recommendation from me. However, for lovers of international film and those fascinated with other cultures and their stories, this animated adventure will satiate your curiosity and be a welcome alternative to Hollywood’s content factory.

The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin is currently screening at the Laemmle Theater.

The Knight in the Tiger's Skin (2022)

Directed and Written: Mirza Davitaia

Starring: Giviko Baratashvili, Manika Asatiani, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

The Knight in the Tiger's Skin Image

"…able to transform his simple set into an ornate palace, take his adventure to exotic locations, and transport us back in time..."

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