Movie 11min

The Way of the Cross (1909)

A Story of Ancient Rome
Not rated.

+ 9 images
Facts
Director J. Stuart Blackton
Country United States
Language English
Titles
(Alternative) The Way of the Cross; or, a Story of Ancient Rome
Production
Distribution
Categories
1. Century Ancient Rome Black and White Crusifix Drama Early Christians Emperor Nero Faith Gladiator Martyrdom Period Drama Persecution Prayer Religious Conversion Religious Persecution Romance Short Silent Film
Descriptions

A powerful drama, laid in Rome during the reign of Nero. He, trying to divert public wrath from his own misconduct, encourages the persecution of the increasing sect of Christians. The story pictures the inhuman treatment of the Christians, who are led to safety in the Catacombs by a Roman officer in love with one of their number. Nero decrees death to all Christians, and the young soldier, failing in his efforts in behalf of the unfortunates, goes to death with them.

Source: The Film Index


A story of ancient Rome. The scene of this story is laid in Rome in the days of Nero. Rome has recently suffered conflagrations and other disasters, and Nero, hoping to divert the public wrath from his own misconduct, has encouraged the persecution of the growing sect of Christians. Valerius, the hero of the story, is a young Roman officer of a better nature than the people with whom he is thrown in contact. Leah, the heroine, is a beautiful young woman, and one of the leading spirits of a band of Christians. In the opening scene of the picture we see Leah, the heroine, and the Christian band being roughly treated by the mob in the streets of Rome. The scene then changes to the interior of a Roman house where the hero, Valerius, and a number of loose Roman men and women are drinking and gambling. Valerius is thoughtful and becomes disgusted with the life he is leading. He leaves the scene of dissipation in spite of the protests of Gallia, a courtesan, who is in love with him, and goes into the street where for the first time he sees Leah, the Christian girl, and hears the story of Christ. As he listens in wonder to the new religion, and is looking with admiration on Leah, the mob suddenly becomes uncontrolled, beats down the Christians and would have injured the girl, Leah, except for the timely intervention of Valerius, who saves her from violence and leads her in safety to her own door. In the meantime Gallia, who has come into the street, with jealousy has observed Valerius' admiration for the Christian girl, sends a spy to learn where she lives. Returning from the home of Leah. Valerius goes to the palace of Nero, whither the jealous Gallia and others have preceded him. Arrived at the feast he is taunted by the revelers concerning the new found object of his affection. Gallia induces Nero to have Leah brought to the feast, where she is unexpectedly confronted by Valerius. The revelers torment and taunt the girl until the hero takes matters in his own hand and steps forward to protect her. He throws aside the chief of her tormentors and leads her into another room. Here he makes love to her, but, resenting this, she gains his respect, begs him to leave his life of dissipation and the worship of idols, and to follow her in the "Way of the Cross." Valerius is impressed by her words, and for the second time gives her safe conduct to her home. The following day the jealous Gallia persuades Nero to sign a decree of death upon all Christians and she induces a certain Captain to start upon immediate execution of the decree. The hero, however, suspects that her purpose is to secure the death of the Christian girl and carries a personal warning to her home. With her father and younger brother she escapes to one of the subterranean chambers in the vicinity of Rome. Here with other Christians she remains in hiding for some time. Finally, however, it becomes necessary to send the younger brother, Paulus, from the hiding place for food. As he goes through the streets of Rome he is discovered by Gallia and is captured, tortured and compelled to reveal the hiding place of the Christians. The soldiers set out at once to capture Leah and the band. The hero, however, has gone to the cliffs where the Christians are in hiding to seek an interview with the Christian girl. As he leaves her he spies the soldiers coming to take the Christians. He follows them into the cavern and for the second time saves the life of the heroine, compelling them to give her a fair trial. She is brought before Nero, and, in spite of the hero's protestations that she leave her religion, acknowledge the idolatrous religion of the Romans and join him in safety, she clings to her faith and as a reward is condemned to die the death of a martyr. The hero is in despair. The scene of the story now changes to the arena on the day following. The Roman populace is on the way to attend the gladiatorial combats and the execution of the condemned Christians. This sort of spectacle evidently does not appeal to Valerius, but urged on by Gallia he consents to join the audience at the arena. After a combat in which the cruelty of the Roman populace is shown, the Christians about to die are led before Nero's private box, where the hero is seated. Among the Christians as they pass the box Valerius again beholds Leah, the Christian girl. She looks up to him and as her last message holds up the cross. At this Valerius rushes from the crowd and goes down into the prison and struggles with his own mind as to where his duty and happiness lie. In a series of visions he sees the Christian girl pointing him to the Way of the Cross, and sees Gallia, the courtesan, holding out her arms to him. This vision fades and again he sees before him the cross. Leah is led past him to her cell to await the moment of execution. He follows her and pleads with her at the last moment to renounce her belief. She, however, is true to her faith, and Valerius, his conscience now thoroughly aroused, sees before him only one path, the "Way of the Cross." As he sees this inevitable course, the guards throw open the doors once more. The lions which are to devour the Christians are seen moving about beyond. The guard gives an order and Valerius and the Christian girl holding aloft the cross, pass out into the arena to meet death together.

Source: Moving Picture World

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