Lucrezia Borgia

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Lucrezia Borgia at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)
Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Abel Gance (Napoleon)
Starring: Edwige Feuillère, Gabriel Gabrio, Maurice Escande, Roger Karl, Aimé Clariond
Rated: NR

An oddity—and a fairly minor one—from the great Abel Gance, Lucrezia Borgia (1935) is really nothing more than a “boddice ripper” (lots get ripped and a surprising amount of breasts get displayed). The film treats the Borgia clan with scant regard for history, but a great deal of very agreeable melodrama. Originally banned in several countries (mostly for its nudity, including a quick, nearly full-frontal view of star Edwige Feuillère in the title role), the film was largely unseen in the U.S. till its DVD incarnation (taken from what looks like a battered 16mm print). It’s certainly worth a look—perhaps as much for its silliness as its cinematic quality, though the latter shouldn’t be sold short.

According to the film, the only real villain of the piece is Césare Borgia (Gabriel Gabrio), a power-mad barbarian, who may or may not have a thing for his sister (he kills off every one of her lovers), but thinks nothing of using her for marital alliances. The father, Pope Alexander VI (Roger Karl), is viewed as an ineffectual character at the mercy of this wayward son—despite what history tells us. Jean Borgia (Maurice Escande) is presented as a pretty good guy with a penchant for the arts (code for gay in this instance), who happens to stand in Césare’s way. And Lucrezia? Well, she’s just a friendly, misunderstood girl with bad luck and a worse family. It’s all a bit clunky and old-fashioned (despite all the skin and sexual undertones), but it’s also a lot of fun with occasional flourishes worthy of Gance.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.