5.8/10
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Heliogabalus, Tyrant of Rome (1911)

L'orgie romaine (original title)
The dissolute Emperor Heliogabalus dresses as a woman, and looses lions among his guests.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jean Aymé ...
Héliogabale
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Louise Lagrange
Luitz-Morat
Léonce Perret
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Storyline

A dissolute and bloodthirsty Emperor is on the throne, and a gorgeous representation of the Roman Court with its sumptuous surroundings and kaleidoscopic colorings is portrayed. In the year 215 of the Christian era, Heliogabalus was proclaimed Emperor by the soldiers, after defeating his rival, Macrinus. His reign of nearly four years was infamous for his gluttony and unparalleled debaucheries. At the age of 14 he was invested with the royal purple, and Rome soon displayed a scene of cruelty and licentiousness, among which the most infamous of the populace became favorites of the youthful Caesar. This film depicts a few instances of the tyrant's cruelty and also his well merited and cowardly end. One day, while attending to the Emperor's toilette, a slave makes a slight mistake, and Heliogabalus, crying out in rage, immediately condemns the poor servant to death. Falling on his knees, the unfortunate creature begs in vain for his life, and is dragged away by the soldiers and thrown as... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Short | Drama

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Release Date:

28 April 1912 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heliogabalus, Tyrant of Rome  »

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(hand-colored)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Released in the US as a split reel along with the documentary Dinant on the Meuse (1912). See more »

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User Reviews

A Roman Orgy
10 August 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

L'orgie romaine (1911)

*** (out of 4)

Simple but fun French film takes place in Rome, 218 AD as Elagabalus enjoys being treated as the master he is as countless women take care of him. This ranges from them doing his clothes and giving him a bath. In one of the film's best moments, a servant accidentally scratched Elagabalus so he sends the guy to the lion pits where he's eaten before everyone goes back to the orgy (or more of a party). Those expecting some nudity of dirty stuff will be disappointed as the title is quite misleading but I'm going to guess it was used to get some folks into the theater expecting something more naughty. What is here is a pleasant little gem that gives us a fake history lesson in just eight-minutes. Director Feuillade manages to pack quite a bit into the short running time but there's no question the highlight is the lion's den, which actually manages to contain some mild suspense even though we know the actor is in no real danger. Another highlight comes towards the end when the always joking Elagabalus lets the lions join the party. The final five-minutes of this film are hand colored and it looks very good. Another major plus are the wonderful sets and nice costumes. Fans of early cinema will certainly want to check this one out.


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