An Eye for an Eye; or, The Last Days of King Henry III of France (1911)

Short, Drama


An Eye for an Eye; or, The Last Days of King Henry III of France (1911) Poster

1. The Duchess of Montpensier meets the fanatical young monk, Jacques Clement. 2. She receives a message telling of the murder of her brother. 3. Henry of Navarre overhears the duchess ... See full summary »


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17 April 2016 | deickemeyer
It is a great death scene, and one that will be remembered long by all who see it
Prominent among the coming releases of George Kleine is "An Eye for an Eye, or the Last Days of Henry III of France." by Eclipse. This full length film can be placed safely, side by side with the great masterpieces which have brought dignity and educational importance to the moving picture. Everyone who saw "The Taming of the Shrew" by the same manufacturers was delighted with the exceptionally clever acting and fine photography, and many of us, at the time, expressed the hope that Eclipse would spring a number of delightful surprises of a similar kind in the near future. The first of these has arrived under the title already given, and in viewing it, one altogether loses sight of twentieth century associations, as he rubs clothes with French royalty, as it flourished in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. The admirable art disclosed in the selection of exterior settings for this film and the careful study of interiors and furnishings of the period, merit unstinted praise. So also does the costuming of the characters, from king to servitor, which displays careful research and close familiarity with the clothing worn at the time. Among the exteriors may be mentioned a fine front view of the king's palace, laid in extensive grounds and partly hidden by trees and shrubbery. Here the massiveness of the structure and the beauty of the architecture, and surroundings, suggest the atmosphere amid which kings move. Note that the interior of one of the king's rooms in the palace shows a scantiness of furniture. A solitary chair affords the only seating comforts of the room. This shows a nice conformity with the fashion of the times, and is another evidence of the intelligent care being taken by those in charge of the production. The interior of the royal tent at St. Cloud is another fine setting. The groups of officers and courtiers in the tent, surrounding the king before, and after, he has received his death wound, are more noble in pose and action than if the characters looked out from the canvas of a great painting. The acting of the principals in the production of this film can be recommended as a criterion. The chief characters are King Henry III, Jacques Clement (a fanatical young monk), Henry of Navarre (a distant cousin of the king, and afterwards Henry IV), and the Duchess of Montpensier (a sister of the Duke of Guise). These characters have been assigned as follows: Henry III: M. Saillard, of the Antoine Theater; Jacques Clement: M. Gregoire, of the Odeon Theater; Henry of Navarre, M. Remy, of the Theater des Arts, and the Duchess of Montpensier, Madame Dermoz, of the Antoine Theater. M. Saillard has given us more than a portrayal of Henry. His study has been so minute and analytical that we get glimpses of the very soul of the king, who has debased his manhood by debauchery. In the scene where he is confronted by the Duchess of Montpensier and threatened with death in revenge for the assassination of her brother, the Duke of Guise, we can see, notwithstanding his assumption of royal dignity, that he is seized by a great fear. A fleeting expression of countenance shows it; but he gathers strength when he thinks of his lineage and, as he kisses the medallion of his house, he proudly lifts his head and dares her to do her worst. The insolent backward glances thrown at the infuriated woman, as he proceeds to rejoin his courtiers, reveal a cruel heart and a mind that has ceased to respect womanhood, not to speak of a lack of royal dignity. Then when the meshes of the net are being drawn more closely to accomplish his death, and we see him cowering in a room of his palace, every entrance of which is guarded by his retainers, starting at the slightest sound and so abject that personal defense is impossible, M. Saillard gives us a clear view of his craven soul. In the death scene in the tent at St. Cloud, after the fatal blow has been struck and his followers rush in at his cry, Henry is king again. The shadow that haunted him has become a reality. There is now no show of fear of that great night shadow into which he is about to pass. Mustering strength, he rises and announces that Henry of Navarre will succeed him. Then he crumples up limply as the arms of his successor encircle him. It is a great death scene, and one that will be remembered long by all who see it. M. Gregoire, of the ascetic face and neurasthenic fervor, worthily impersonates the young monk, Jacques Clement. M. Gregoire convinces us that Clement feels that a heavy cross, almost too heavy to bear, has been placed on him and that he is carrying out the mandates of Heaven. And what a noble, chivalric soldier, proud of bearing and true and fearless of heart, do we find in Henry of Navarre, as the character has been conceived and presented to us by M. Remy! It takes us back to the days of romance, when a true knight's sword represented stainless honor and a bulwark of defense for the weak. That haughty dame, the Duchess of Montpensier, finds an able double in Madame Dermoz. The heated interview with the king is spirited and haughtily defiant. Her domination of Clement by her charm of manner and a stern reminder that it is his sacred duty, leads to the death of Henry. The youth's soul revolts from the crime, but when the strong-minded woman thrusts the dagger into his hands, she knows that Henry's doom is sealed. - The Moving Picture World, October 7, 1911

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Genres

Short | Drama

Details

Release Date:

8 November 1911

Language

French


Country of Origin

France

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