At the end of the 15th Century, Rome is ruled ruthlessly by power mad and sex hungry Cesare Borgia, the eldest son of Pope Alexander VI. Following the advice of his chief adviser Niccolo ...
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Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (who Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Gabriel de Gravone
At the end of the 15th Century, Rome is ruled ruthlessly by power mad and sex hungry Cesare Borgia, the eldest son of Pope Alexander VI. Following the advice of his chief adviser Niccolo Macchiavelli, Cesare Borgia decides to attempt to unify the country in order to become even more powerful. To this end he needs his sister Lucrezia. Presently, the beautiful creature is married to the Count of Pesaro but she would be more useful if she was the wife of Alphonse of Aragon. Never mind, let the Count join his ancestors! And when the Duke of Aragon becomes useless, Cesare easily finds his replacement. Used as a pawn by her brother, Lucrezia eventually renounces happiness and becomes patron of the arts and the letters/ Written by
"Lucrece Borgia" is not among Gance's finest works.The beginning looks like a relic from the silent era ,with its interminable depiction of the abominable Cesar Borgia,complete with orgies (one of Gance's recurrent features;these ones are rather tame and timid compare to the ones you can watch in "La Fin du Monde" (1930)) ,rapes and drinking sessions.Oddly Juan Borgia and Lucrece are not given that much time.The highlight ,so to speak,is nevertheless Lucrece's bath for we can see her almost completely naked ,which was exceptional in the French cinema of the thirties.Christian-Jaque's own "Lucrece Borgia" starring Martine Carol,was not an improvement on it twenty years later for that matter.
The legend has made Lucrece a scandalous hussy.Historians generally disagree ,and the ending of the film is faithful to what you find in her entry in encyclopedias: a patron who used to like music,poetry and arts.For that matter ,it's historically accurate: a pawn in her brother's and her father's games,they used her to ally themselves with dangerous enemies.
It is a relatively short movie and I wonder if the current version is complete: the scene when Cesar shows Lucrece her so called lovers' graves is totally irrelevant ,for the life she leads in the film is rather chaste (the extramarital life of course).
Gance's best talkies were still to come in 1935: "Un Grand Amour de Beethoven" "J'Accuse" (brilliant remake of the silent work) "Paradis Perdu" "Venus Aveugle" and "Le Capitaine Fracasse".
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