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Lucrezia Borgia (1935)

Lucrèce Borgia (original title)
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 ... See full summary »

Director:

Abel Gance

Writers:

Abel Gance (screenplay), Léopold Marchand (dialogue) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edwige Feuillère ... Lucrezia Borgia
Gabriel Gabrio ... César Borgia
Maurice Escande ... Jean Borgia, Duke of Gandie
Roger Karl ... Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI
Aimé Clariond ... Niccollo Machiavelli
Philippe Hériat Philippe Hériat ... Filippo, sculptor-lover
Jacques Dumesnil ... Giannino Sforza, Duke of Milano
Max Michel Max Michel ... Alfonse de Aragon
Louis Eymond Louis Eymond ... Capt. Mario, officer-lover (as Aymond)
Jean Fay Jean Fay ... Tybald
René Bergeron René Bergeron ... Pietro (as Bergeron)
Gaston Modot ... Fracassa
Antonin Artaud ... Girolamo Savonarola (as Artaud)
Marcel Chabrier ... Un moine - l'envoyé de Savonarole (as Chabrier)
Georges Prieur Georges Prieur ... Baron de Villeneuve (as Prieur)
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Storyline

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 Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Banned in England, Germany and Italy

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

12 October 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lucrezia Borgia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

FRF2,100,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Compagnie du Cinema See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film created a scandal in 1935 because of its raunchy orgy scenes and of a brief shot showing Edwige Feuillère naked. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A very good film, but only for a small and very select audience,...others will probably not be very impressed.
23 August 2006 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This is not a bad film, but for several reasons the average viewer might be either bored by the whole thing or put off by its surprising amount of nudity--an oddity for 1935 (and which resulting in its being banned in several countries when it was first released). As you can guess, it's not a great film for the kiddies since it's pretty explicit. However, it also is very hard to follow for someone not well-versed in late 15th century Italian history. While I am NOT an elitist snob, I could follow it pretty well since I am a history teacher and am pretty familiar with the Borgia family--definitely placing me in the minority!! As far as its value in telling about the awful Borgia family, the film is definitely a mixed bag. I've read books written by both anti-Borgia contemporaries AND pro-Borgias--and both give a very different slant on the family. But, a few things that both sides would agree on is that they were certainly NOT the Cleavers!!

The patriarch became Pope Alexander VI--no small feat as he had already produced three bastards that he publicly acknowledged!! His sexual prowess and greed for power is pretty much accepted fact by both sides.

His son Cesare, though DEFINITELY a conniving and power-hungry snake (even his FANS acknowledged this--Macchiavelli actually admired him for these personality traits!), seemed almost comical in how bad he was in the movie--claiming that he murdered and raped practically everyone in sight (including killing his brother and his sister's husbands--murdered, that is, not raped in these cases). All this COULD be true, but unfortunately, history doesn't really confirm these most salacious behaviors--but it sure makes for a sleazy and interesting movie!!! So, it might be a lot of exaggeration (and I am sure the way he raped every woman in sight like he did in the movie is a huge exaggeration--he probably would have died a lot sooner out of sheer exhaustion), but it makes for pretty compelling viewing!

As for Lucretia, the film actually takes a much more sympathetic view. Again, some contemporary historians described her as practically the bride of Satan while others painted her as an innocent woman stuck with two rather power-mad brothers and a terrible father. The movie chose to show her as a victim of evil Cesare--unaware that lover after lover were killed by him. The film also seemed to STRONGLY imply that this might have been the result of unrequited incestuous feelings by Cesare for his sister (yuck)! Pretty racy stuff,...along with the nude scenes of Lucretia!

Oddly, the film took a rather non-committal look at Alexander VI. In reality he was a vile and conniving pervert (who can deny this? It's fact according to every sane historian), he was shown as a very passive pawn of Cesare! Considering he became Pope and constantly grabbed for more and more gold and power during his reign, this isn't a very accurate portrayal.

Okay, the boring historical stuff aside, what we have is a sexually charged historical epic of questionable accuracy that is still fun to watch in a "DALLAS" or "GENERAL HOSPITAL" sort of way. Not exactly high art like director Gance's great epic NAPOLEON, but still pretty watchable.


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