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Her Sister's Rival (1916)

Zhizn za zhizn (original title)
Wealthy Mrs. Khromova has a natural daughter, Musya, and an adopted daughter, Nata. The merchant Zhurov is in love with Nata, and hopes to marry her, but she is non-committal. When Zhurov ... See full summary »

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Olga Rakhmanova ...
Lidiya Koreneva ...
Vera Kholodnaya ...
Vitold Polonsky ...
Ivane Perestiani ...
Zhurov, the merchant
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Storyline

Wealthy Mrs. Khromova has a natural daughter, Musya, and an adopted daughter, Nata. The merchant Zhurov is in love with Nata, and hopes to marry her, but she is non-committal. When Zhurov introduces his friend Prince Bartinsky to the family, both young women soon fall in love with the dashing but irresponsible prince. The prince is in love with Nata, but because of his enormous debts, he decides to marry Musya to get her dowry, and he allows Nata to marry Zhurov. All the while, Mrs. Khromova remains very uneasy, fearing that marriage is unlikely to cause the self-indulgent prince to change his ways. Written by Snow Leopard

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9 December 1917 (USA)  »

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Her Sister's Rival  »

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User Reviews

Effective & Deceptively Simple Melodrama
11 July 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

With his usual keen eye for melodrama involving human relationships, Yevgeni Bauer takes a familiar setup and builds it into an effective drama that brings out many things about its characters. His approach is deceptively simple, making sparing use of camera motion, even by his standards, and allowing the characters and settings to drive the story.

The story involves the two daughters, one natural and one adopted, of wealthy Mrs. Khromova, and their ill-starred romances. The same kind of setup has been used for any number of forgettable movies, but Bauer always had good insight into the possibilities in this kind of story. Without making any overt judgments, he exposes the passions and weaknesses of each character. Things are built up slowly, allowing each choice that the characters make to sink in.

The settings for "A Life For a Life" are especially lavish. They often serve as background only, but after watching for a while, it suddenly dawns on you that this is a world of great luxury and wealth, yet those who live in this world are tormented and unhappy. And, though not part of the design, there's an added poignancy in knowing that this whole world of high society in Russia was soon to be swept away.

The popular Vera Kholodnaya was the star of the cast, and has some good moments. Olga Rakhmanova, though, probably gives the best overall performance as Mrs. Khromova, the only one of the characters who can see everything clearly, and yet even she finds herself at the mercy of her emotions. In general, the acting is understated, which tends to underline the fatalistic tone that characterizes many of Bauer's movies.

Bauer made a couple of other movies that were deeper and more compelling than this one is, but his approach here gets the most out of the material, and it makes for an effective and convincing drama.


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