A Life For A Life (1916)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Zhizn za zhizn

Russia, 1916.  Khanzhonkov.  Screenplay by Yevgeni Bauer, based on the novel Serge Panine by .  Cinematography by .  Production Design by .  

A wealthy widow raising two daughters, one hers by birth and the other adopted, does her best to do right by both of them and hopes they will both make good matches. The adopted daughter, Nata, catches the eye of a wealthy merchant but is in love with a handsome, gambling-addicted prince. He loves her back, but his ruined financial estate forces him to marry Nata’s sister Musya for her dowry instead, pushing Nata into the arms of the merchant and providing her with a much finer life than her sister ends up with.

Tragedy and doom abound, but director Yevgeni Bauer is so good at fleshing out the characters and encouraging such natural performances from the actors that the playing out of this very predictable story is very entertaining. Gorgeous sets and costumes are also a plus in this lovely drama that marks the end of an era in pre-revolutionary Russian cinema.


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