Rigoletto (film)

Rigoletto (film)

"Rigoletto" is a
1993 musical fantasy/drama produced for Feature Films for Families and described by Debbie James as "kind of a cross between "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Man Without a Face", but with biblical themes" [http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/pre2000/rvu-rigoletto.html] . It has also been compared with "The Phantom of the Opera".

Plot Synopsis

Rigoletto, set in Depression-era America, stars (Ivey Lloyd) as Bonnie, a young girl who is gifted with a beautiful singing voice. Her favorite fairy tale, which she reads to her younger brother at the beginning of the film is "Rigoletto", the story of a cursed fairy prince who must live as an ugly monster until he can find someone who can see through his appearance to the heart within.

When a mysterious man arrives in town and buys the mortgage on Bonnie's house, threatening her family with eviction, Bonnie agrees to work for him as a servant in exchange for allowing her family to keep their home. At first, Bonnie believes the man, Ribaldi, is a monster due to his physical deformity (his face is badly scarred and he is forced to use a cane) and his cold, angry demeanor. When Bonnie finds Ribaldi giving a beautiful young woman music lessons, she realizes that he is a gifted musician and a kind, misunderstood person. Ribaldi is cruel to Bonnie, and Gabriella scolds him for trying to chase Bonnie away "just like all the others". Ribaldi tells Bonnie that Gabriella is a princess, and Gabriella confesses that she is in love with Ribaldi, though some unknown force keeps them apart. Bonnie convinces Ribaldi to give her music lessons. Meanwhile, many townspeople are being evicted from their homes, and suspect the mysterious Ribaldi of ruining their lives. The angry villagers begin to spread rumors about Ribaldi and believe that he is a monster. The village children, on the other hand, are drawn to Ribaldi, and he delights in playing with them and giving them presents.

Throughout the film, the sick and handicapped people of the village are miraculously healed, and farmers receive large amounts of money from an anonymous donor. Porter, a young boy with a stutter, is healed after visiting Ribaldi and looking into his "magic mirror", which Ribaldi claims will help him with his problems.

The townspeople threaten to keep Bonnie from singing in the state singing competition unless she stops visiting Ribaldi. Bonnie tells Ribaldi she will not leave him, but he tells her that to abandon the competition would waste all their hard work, and insists that Bonnie forget about him and follow her dream. Ribaldi's butler, Hans, on hearing how devoted to Ribaldi Bonnie is, asks his master if she is "the one". Ribaldi confesses that he believes she is.

In the climax of the film, while Bonnie is singing in the competition, Ribaldi is visited by Georgie, a young girl from the village, and he offers to walk her home. Along the way, Georgie falls into a river, and Ribaldi saves her. When he tries to bring the unconscious girl into town, he is attacked by the townspeople, who believe he has harmed Georgie. Afterward they destroy Ribaldi's home in search of evidence that he has been taking their homes and land. Instead of this proof, however, they find lists of people Ribaldi has helped by secretly paying for their medical treatments and paying off their farms.

Bonnie wins the singing competition, and returns home to find that Ribaldi has died. While visiting his house after the funeral, she hears Ribaldi's piano being played and goes inside. There she finds a man who looks exactly like Ribaldi, only without scars, who gives Porter Ribaldi's "magic" mirror before leaving. When Bonnie asks him his name, he says "Some people call me Rigoletto, but you don't believe that, do you?" before disappearing with Hans and Gabriella. It is implied by this that the curse on Ribaldi, hinted at throughout the film, has been lifted because Bonnie had seen the true beauty of Ribaldi's heart.

The film ends with Bonnie finishing the Rigoletto story. Her younger brother asks her if she believes the tale, to which Bonnie replies that she does.


Ribaldi/Rigoletto- Ribaldi is a deformed, mysterious man who comes to the town of Castle Gate and, supposedly, begins buying people's homes and land. It is later revealed that he is a kind, generous person who has suffered a mysterious injury. He is filled with self-pity and is often cold and angry, lashing out at those around him, but quickly repents. He is a gifted singer and composer, and it is hinted that he is the cursed fairy prince, Rigoletto.

Bonnie- Bonnie is a naive young girl who goes to work for Ribaldi in order to save her home. She quickly realizes that Ribaldi is not the monster everyone believes him to be, and tries to help him learn to be kinder and happier.

Hans- Ribaldi's butler, Hans, is a comical man with a Teutonic accent. In the beginning of the film he is seen at one of Bonnie's singing competitions, and it is assumed that he has been sent there by Ribaldi to spy on the singers. Ribaldi treats him cruelly, but Hans is devoted to his master and seems to genuinely care for him. He often plays the piano during Bonnie's music lessons.

Gabriella- Gabriella is a beautiful young woman Bonnie meets in Ribaldi's house. Ribaldi claims she is a princess, and they seem to be very much in love.

Georgie- One of Bonnie's friends, Georgie is a poor girl from the village who suffers from a neglectful and abusive father. Ribaldi is especially kind to Georgie, and saves her life when she falls into a river.

Porter- Georgie's brother, who speaks with stutter. While visiting Ribaldi he looks into a "magic" mirror and is suddenly cured of his speech impediment. Ribaldi teaches him that his father is a sad man who needs love and understanding during the hard times of the Great Depression. Because of Ribaldi, Porter is able to forgive his father, and the two are eventually reconciled.


The movie was written and directed by Leo D. Paur, who formerly worked as a writer on animated series such as "The Transformers". There are several points analogous in the movie and the Verdi opera of the same name: there is a beautiful daughter, there is fighting with words, and there is a "curse", but the movie is otherwise unrelated.

The most memorable songs from the movie include: "Let Me In", "The Curse", "April Child", and "The Melody Within". "April Child" was written by Chance Thomas, and the other three by Michael McLean.


*imdb title|id=0107961|title=Rigoletto

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