The Reincarnation of Karma (1912)

During the early Christian era, Karma, a very spiritual and virtuous High Priest of the Temple of India, resists with all his religious fervor, Quinetrea, a beautiful and fascinating ... See full summary »


Van Dyke Brooke


Eugene Mullin (scenario)


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Cast overview:
Courtenay Foote ... Karma / Leslie Adams
Rosemary Theby ... Quinetrea
Lillian Walker ... Lillian White
Charles Eldridge ... Mr. Adams
Edith Storey


During the early Christian era, Karma, a very spiritual and virtuous High Priest of the Temple of India, resists with all his religious fervor, Quinetrea, a beautiful and fascinating enchantress. Quinetrea eventually conquers and Karma falls a victim to her wiles. She triumphantly taunts him, and outraged at her cruel deception. Karma curses her, and Quinetrea is transformed into a huge snake. Fifteen hundred years later, Karma appears, reincarnated in the personality of Leslie Adams and loves the beautiful heiress, Lillian White. Together they visit the ancient Temple of Karma and are shown the reptile, which every hundred years resumes human form. While Leslie gazes fascinated, the snake uncoils and Quinetrea stands before him in all her bewitching charm. She holds him with her hypnotic power and forces him to accept an amulet for his betrothed, upon receiving which Lillian falls dead. Karma beholds a vision of his former self as High Priest, again curses Quinetrea, and drops dead ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Short | Drama







Release Date:

27 December 1912 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Reincarnation of Komar See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Gobbledygook up the yin-yang.

'The Reincarnation of Karma' is a weird film, right enough, but some of its weirdness is down to incoherence rather than the film's exotic subject matter. The synopsis already posted on this movie's IMDb page is accurate, but it's also much clearer than the movie itself. That's because some of the action is repeated. The first time we see it, there's an implication that it's merely a dream rather than actual events: the second time, we see it in flashback, which implies that the events actually happened.

As you might guess from its title, this movie is a chop-suey of a couple of different Oriental belief systems. Early on, we meet Courtenay Foote (what a name!) as Karma (what a name!), the long-haired priest of a temple filled with robed female acolytes. When one particular priestess with an unspellable name (Rosemary Theby) gets the hots for him, Karma shouts 'Great Buddah! Save me from this woman who tempts me!' Huh? Eh? Despite his name, Karma doesn't seem to be a Buddhist, and Buddhism (unlike several other religions) has no teachings against sexuality, so there's no reason why Buddha should intervene in the monkeyshines.

Later, we see Foote again as a modern westerner who of course is the reincarnation of Karma. I was vaguely impressed by how the torch-lit set was photographed, and also impressed by how the set for the ancient temple in the prologue was re-dressed as the same temple (thousands of years later) in the present, now in ruins.

Rosemary Theby was a prolific silent-film actress who is now remembered (if at all) only as WC Fields's wife in 'The Fatal Glass of Beer'. Flat-chested, beak-nosed, she isn't conventionally sexy or glamorous. Yet here and in a couple of other films (notably as the enchantress Morgan Le Fay, in the 1921 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court') Theby displays some genuine allure. It's a shame that she wasn't born 20 years later; she might have had an interesting career in early talkies. But 'The Reincarnation of Karma' is mostly gobbledygook with a yin-yang flavour, and I'll rate it barely 3 out of 10.

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