- Director: Louis Feuillade
The gayest king get his just desserts...after a reign of terror!!!
The lions are magnificent!
A dissolute and bloodthirsty Emperor is on the throne, and a gorgeous representation of the Roman Court with its sumptuous surroundings and kaleidoscopic colorings is portrayed. In the year 215 of the Christian era, Heliogabalus was proclaimed Emperor by the soldiers, after defeating his rival, Macrinus. His reign of nearly four years was infamous for his gluttony and unparalleled debaucheries. At the age of 14 he was invested with the royal purple, and Rome soon displayed a scene of cruelty and licentiousness, among which the most infamous of the populace became favorites of the youthful Caesar. This film depicts a few instances of the tyrant's cruelty and also his well merited and cowardly end. One day, while attending to the Emperor's toilette, a slave makes a slight mistake, and Heliogabalus, crying out in rage, immediately condemns the poor servant to death. Falling on his knees, the unfortunate creature begs in vain for his life, and is dragged away by the soldiers and thrown as food to the lions.
Next, a banquet is seen in progress at the Royal Palace, amidst the theatrical pomp and rain of flowers, the revelers are observed in convivial mood. The splendid feast ordered by the Emperor is drawing to a close when frightful roarings are heard, and the doors opening, a troop of lions bound into the hall. A panic takes place, and the stricken guests fleeing from the threatening danger, rush along the passages, madly endeavoring to find the quickest means of exit. At length, disgusted by this reign of folly and brutality, the Praetorians (who were instrumental in placing Heliogabalus on the throne) resolve to make an end of the tyrant. Surrounding the palace they inform the monster that he must die. Groveling on his knees, the cowardly Heliogabalus beseeches mercy from those who but a short time before had trembled before him. His end is speedy, for they plunge their spears into the tyrant's body, and thus ends the life of one whom history has surnamed the 'Sardanapalus of Rome.'