Francesca da Rimini (1910)
It is a beautiful story simply and clearly told; it all happened in the thirteenth century. Francesca is the daughter of Guido da Polentia, the Lord of Ravenna, Italy. Lanciotto (the Lame), a hunchback of Rimini, becomes enamored of Francesca, although he has never seen her. Her father secures her consent to marry Lanciotto, who sends his brother Paola, a handsome youth, to bring her to Rimini and arrange the nuptials. Paola arriving at the court of Ravenna, Francesca thinks he is Lanciotto and falls in love with him at first sight, and he with her, but Paola controls his heart's desire by proving faithful to his brother's mission. When Francesca meets Lanciotto she is shocked at his attractive brother, whom she really loves and, in fact, shows her preference. Lanciotto sees it and knows the reason, but persists in his attentions and intentions, and, by the persuasion of her father, Francesca is married to Lanciotto. Just after the marriage ceremony, before the bride and groom leave the magnificent cathedral with all its grand architecture, a messenger from the guards of the city rushes in and hands Lanciotto, who is captain of the soldiery, a message that he must join his army and be off to war. Ever faithful to the call of duty, Lanciotto takes his sword from the bearer of the message, gives Francesca over to the care of Paola during his absence, and hastily departs. Pepe, the jester of the court, heartily dislikes Lanciotto, and readily sees the true state of affairs and never fails to mock and ridicule his crippled master. He is delighted when he learns that Francesca and Paola love each other, and is constantly on the "qui vive" for evidence of his suspicions. The lovers in the gorgeous gardens of Rimini are wrapped in love's sweet thoughts and rhapsody, and are irresistibly drawn in each other's embrace, kiss and stand transfixed. Pepe, spying every movement of the couple, dashes from his place of hiding and hastens to Lanciotto's camp, running through the wood and glen like a maddened hound. He reaches Lanciotto's tent, informs him of his wife's and brother's unfaithfulness, only to meet the cripple's wrathful indignation and contempt. The shaft of venom has been sunk deep by Pepe into the heart of Lanciotto, urging him to mount his horse and gallop furiously in the midst of an approaching storm to his palace, there to learn the truth of the jester's report. As the lightning flashes and the thunder roars he reaches the portals of his home, throws aside the curtains and beholds his wife in the embrace of his brother. With terrible denunciations and uncontrolled anger he draws his dagger, raises it to kill, when a stroke of lightning, attracted by the glistening steel, glances from the dagger and strikes the two lovers dead. The climax is a conception of dramatic art, inspired genius, sustaining to the end what proves the par excellence of the Vitagraph "life portrayals."- Written by Moving Picture World synopsis
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