Movie 52min

The Cloister and the Hearth (1913)

An English Masterpiece in 5 parts — Well acted and pictured.
Not rated.

+ 1 image
Adventure Artists Based on Novel Black and White Calling Convent Drama Father-Son Relationship Hay Festival Middle Ages Priest Romance Short Silent Film

Gerard, the eldest son of a wealthy family, is destined by his father for the church, although his own inclinations lie elsewhere. The young fellow is a born artist. His first success comes when he reads of the announcement of a public competition in which a big prize is to be paid for the best picture. It is at this period that he meets Margaret and her aged father. He falls in love with Margaret, and their fast-growing affection is viewed with great concern by the burgomaster of Rotterdam who is keeping in his possession some valuable parchments which relate to Margaret's fortune. Gerard's affection is discovered by his father, who sternly reprimands him, bidding him to think of the vocation in life that he has to fill. Gerard defies his father and family, and goes to his patroness, who, on hearing his story, tells him to put aside all ideas of priesthood for the present, and that she will pay for him to go to Rome and study art. Gerard gratefully accepts the offer, but at the same time he determines that before he leaves, he will wed Margaret secretly. In the meantime his father has been to the burgomaster, attempting to put the law in force against his disobedient son. The burgomaster, fearing for himself if the union between Gerard and Margaret should come to pass, promises his aid. Accordingly Gerard is torn from the arms of his newly-made bride at the very foot of the altar. He is imprisoned in the burgomaster's house. But thanks to the efforts of Margaret and his sister and crippled brother, he makes his escape. While escaping he accidentally discloses a trapdoor which conceals the secret hiding-place of the burgomaster's papers, and thinking that some of them will be useful to him in his work as an artist, he fills his pockets full. He finds on examination that one of them is the actual document relating to Margaret's fortune, and he keeps this, giving the others to Margaret to bury in the garden. He then sets out for Rome and on his way falls in with Denys of Burgundy, a Burgundian soldier of fortune. A friendship springs up between the gentle artist and the rough soldier. Then follows the attempted murder of the two men in the inn by the rascally landlord and his two accomplices, from which Gerard and his companion emerge victorious. Gerard arrives at Rome, and continues his studies. In the meantime his brothers, who have always been jealous of him, discover his whereabouts, and with the connivance of the burgomaster, send a letter to him to the effect that Margaret is dead. This information drives Gerard to such a state of despair that when his life is attempted by an assassin who is bribed to kill him by Princess Cloelia, whose overtures he has rejected. He offers no resistance, but the assassin overcome with remorse drops his dagger and flees from the scene. A year elapses, and Gerard, now a priest, returns to his own country. He is summoned to the death-bed of an old hermit and when he dies. Gerard takes up his life in the old man's cave. His wife comes to the spot to pray, and recognizes Gerard by a birthmark on his hand. The unfortunate man then learns for the first time that he has been deceived, that his wife is alive and that he has a son five years old. When he realizes the extent of the treacherous trick that has been played upon him, he bursts in upon his family and denounces his brothers. The rage of his father knows no bounds, and he is with difficulty restrained from slaying the son who has wrecked his elder brother's life. He next visits the burgomaster, and by the aid of the incriminating parchment, which he has kept all these years, forces him to restore Margaret's fortune. This, however, is the most he can do, and, after taking an agonizing farewell of his wife and child, he is forced to go out in the world alone, for there is no power that can absolve him from the duties of his holy calling, nor is it possible for a man to mix again with the world over whose head the sacred words have been spoken, "Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedech."

Source: The Moving Picture World - March 7, 1914

IN THE garden of visualized stories it is a relief to find the delicate fragrance of old-time romance now and then, especially in these days of sagebush and cactus flower — it is a wide swing from the vigorous crudities of the cowboy, supposed, for some unknown reason, to be characteristic and representative of our national life, to those chivalrous adventures of olden times which might vanish from remembrance, but for screen revival. "The Cloister and the Hearth" is a story of far higher merit than the surpassing graciousness of its telling might indicate, and it is not devoted to the telling of a quaint and pretty story — it presents a powerful dramatic situation.

Peculiar thing about this powerful dramatic situation is the fact that a great French novelist of modern times, whose story, at least, was written later than "The Cloister and the Hearth," used exactly the same critical point in his masterpiece and entirely escaped being charged with plagiarism. In all probability, the plot was not plagiarized — the entire group of circumstances and posture of the character was so different. Two great writers of fiction instinctively grasped what afforded them opportunity for emotional development, with a last chapter that was, in each case, the crowning inspiration of the whole composition. The last scene in the visualized novel has the same dramatic fitness, the more effective that it can be seen, an exquisite piece of artistry.

Gerard, central figure of the story, is an artist by nature, who is expected by his family to enter priesthood and dedicate his life to that calling. He is a young man of lofty ideals, of imaginative temperament, of simple directness and noble purposes, and this role is capably interpreted in the photodrama, the only regret being that the actor's appearance is not more spiritual. A man of sincerity and fine creative talent, he is fascinating to women — they are impressed by mental or by physical superiority from the requirements of their hearts — and, like most men of genius, he falls into a baffling game of love early in life. He defies his parents, escapes from imprisonment, renders himself liable to severe punishment and marries the lovely girl of his choice before he can be retaken. He is arrested at the altar, immediately after the wedding has taken place, and is again imprisoned. After a second escape and a few hours of impassioned love, he leaves the country and finds his way through perilous adventures to Rome.

A conspiracy of envy, guilt, malice and hatred among those left behind results in sending a message to him at Rome announcing the death of his young wife. His agony of mind is strongly depicted — it destroys his artistic impulses, snuffs out the ardent flame of hope, drives him to attempted suicide, and, finally, consigns him to living death in the cloister. He emerges several years later, when he is sent forth to preach, and wanders back to the scenes of his brief happiness. The invisible hand that directs the workings of human affairs brings him into a sudden meeting with the wife he has loved with pure devotion and the fine little boy she has brought into the world.

The way is open to an easy solution of his problem. He can renounce the vows he has made to serve none but God, but his eyes go to the cross he wears; he remembers the supreme sacrifice of Him who perished on the cross, and he bows down in a new agony of soul, such as many a common soldier has felt on leaving all that the world had given him to love when duty called him to face death on the field for the common good.

Gerard rises from his torment to a first responsibility of immediate justice, one which avenges the wrong done and provides for the future comfort of his wife and their child. His fierce battle with Nature's sweet and alluring calls is fought all over again — his impassioned love for wife and child nearly consume him — and he finally bows to his noblest ideals, the prornptirigs of what is finest in him, in a concluding scene that will live in the memory of all who follow the pictured story with sympathetic comprehension of its meaning.

Source: The Moving Picture World - March 7, 1914

Another British "Exclusive."

In securing the Hepworth Company's scholarly and effective version of Charles Reade's famous novel, "The Cloister and the Hearth," as their latest "exclusive," Renters, Limited, have given yet another instance of that keen discernment and appreciation for really good work so notable in all their previous purchases. It is, indeed, difficult to think of another firm holding a series of "exclusive" films all of which reach so high a standard of excellence as do those controlled

of its exceedingly high qualities, which render it so attractive and distinguished an entertainment. Charles Reade’s novels are, in all probability, still as popular as they ever were, which is equivalent to saying that they are amongst the most widely admired works ever written, and "The Cloister and the Hearth" easily takes its place at the head of the list as the best of them all. It is a fascinating drama of love and villainy, and, unlike so many historical stories, its sharply defined main theme is not overpowered

by Renters, Limited, and it is pleasant to find so comparatively young a company making the very most of the advantages offered by the "exclusive" system by buying only pictures which are worthy of the distinction implied by this method of handling.

"The Cloister and the Hearth," one feels, should prove a particularly remunerative investment both for the proprietors of the film and for those exhibitors who are wise enough to book it. We reviewed the picture at length in our issue of December 4th last, so that there is no necessity to reconsider it here in detail; but it may not be out of place remind your readers by a mass of historical detail, but is fully as striking and effective, in spite of its picturesque setting, as any tale of modern life. Thus, although the film contains many delightful pictures of fifteenth century Holland and Italy, contrived with accurate realism which is a credit to the producers, it attracts one primarily by the appeal of its very poignant and wonderfully human story. It is, in short, a film which should interest any audience, irrespective of their familiarity with the original novel, and its great excellence in point of staging, acting, and photography, represent all that is best in the art of the cinematograph, makes it a thoroughly firstrate entertainment worthy to be presented at any theatre whatsoever.

There is nothing more that it is necessary for us to add concerning the picture, but we should like to congratulate Renters, Limited, on the wisdom of their choice in acquiring it. Their repertoire of "exclusives" contains many of the most artistic productions yet seen, and one is exceedingly glad to observe that they are continuing their policy of relying upon films of British manufacture.

Source: The Bioscope, June 14, 1914



We have always maintained that the novel, as an art form, more closely resembles fhe picture play than anything else, and that the cinematograph cannot seek inspiration from any more suitable source. It is significant that nearly all the most triumphantly successful films produced have been adaptations from well-known works of fiction, and their success has been due quite as much to the suitability of the latter for pictorial treatment, as to the ready-made fame and popularity which are naturally reflected to the film version from its original. In common with other leading producers, the Hepworth Company have achieved many of their most notable artistic successes by translating literary masterpieces into moving pictures. Quite recently they have given us wonderful versions of "Oliver Twist," "David Copperfield," and "The Vicar of Wakefield." Leaving Dickens and Goldsmith, they have now turned to Charles Reade, and have prepared a "visualisation" of that author's famous work, "The Cloister and the Hearth," his only historical novel, and the one which is considered by most critics to represent his genius most worthily.

Reade's experience as a dramatist doubtless accounts for his unusual sense of the dramatic, and his dexterity in handling situations as a novelist—characteristics of his books which render the latter peculiarly well suited for presentation in the form of plays. Of "The Cloister and the Hearth," Swinburne has written: "The variety of life, the vigour of action, the straightforward and easy mastery displayed at every step in every stage of the fiction, would of themselves be enough to place "The Cloister and the Hearth" among the very greatest masterpieces of narrative."

With all its advantages and its unquestionable possibilities, however, this novel presents more than ordinary difficulties to the cinematographer. Its place and period—Holland and Italy in the fifteenth century—make unique demands upon the costumier and the scene painter, whilst the abundance of its incidents renders the task of selection and compression an extremely exacting one. It says a very great deal for the skill, the artistic discrimination, and the resources of the Hepworth Company that they have succeeded in producing as excellent an adaptation of the book as one could desire. All the best known and most effective episodes are included with as little variation from the text as possible; the atmosphere of the work is well preserved throughout; the numerous pictures' of medizval life are well and carefully presented; and the play—or story—as a whole, is shapely and consistently interesting. The spectator who did not know the original would probably have to attend closely to the sub-titles, especially in the earlier part of the film, in order thoroughly to grasp its significance, but, attentively followed, the plot would be entirely clear and comprehensible. The finish seems, perhaps, a trifle abrupt and unsatisfactory — and, where the film is concerned, it is rather a pity that Reade did not favour a "happy" ending — but it is difficult to see how it could have been improved without departing quite unforgiveably from the original.

The producer has evidently depended upon the dramatic story, and the human interest of the work rather than upon its spectacular values, but in spite of this, and in spite of the absence of any very elaborate scenic display, we are given numerous examples of photographic effect than which even the Hepworth Company have never given us anything finer. The modern cinematographer has now reached a level almost as high as that attained by the ordinary photographer where effects of light and shade, composition and photographic arrangement are concerned. There are many pictures in "The Cloister and the Hearth" strikingly beautiful and original, and wholly satisfying from an artistic point of view. In this respect, indeed, it is hard to remember any parallel for the film.

The acting is capable and natural, if a trifle slow in some cases. Particularly fine performances are given by Mr. Jamie Darling as Elias, Mr. John MacAndrews as the Burgomaster, and Mr. Hay-Plumb as Denys of Burgundy, whilst everybody else does well.

Altogether, we find this "strange history of two sore-tried souls" very much to our taste, and we can well believe that it will prove equally to the liking of picture theatre audiences. The film might be made a little shorter with advantage—in one or two places the action has a tendency to drag — but, even as it stands, it constitutes a most pleasing and artistic entertainment. Lovers of the original book will be particularly delighted with it, because it interprets the work with a fulness and an accuracy quite remarkable under the circumstances, and with a vividness by which Charles Reade, himself, would have been the first to be charmed.

Source: The Bioscope, Dec 4, 1913

"The Cloister and the Hearth," the only historical novel written by Charles Reade, and considered by most critics to be his best work, has been produced in five parts by Hep worth, London. One need only recall the fact that Hepworth produced the sevenpart feature, Charles Dickens, "David Copperfield," and the fourpart version of Oliver Goldsmith's, "The Vicar of Wakefield," to appreciate the merit of this latest effort in translating the best works of famed authors to the screen.

The film version adheres unusually close to the story, and students of literature will be surprised at the freedom from anachronisms for a subject of so ambitious a character. It place and period — Holland and Italy in the fifteenth century — required careful consideration and closest attention to detail.

Gerard holds our interest from the time of his secret marriage to Margaret, and his subsequent journey to Rome, on which he makes a lasting friendship with the Burgundian soldier of fortune, Denys, until his return, several years later, as a priest, to his wife and little son, from whom his duty to his Master forces him to say farewell. "The Cloister and the Hearth" will be released shortly by the Hepworth American Film Corporation, of which Albert Blinkhorn is president.

Source: The Moving Picture World - March 28, 1914

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