Reviewed by: Debbie James
This movie was produced specifically for Feature Films For Families, an organization dedicated to providing wholesome films for viewing by the entire family without having to worry about the profanity, sexual content, or graphic violence that is so common, even in “family films” of today.
This heartwarming story, set in the Depression-era, is kind of a cross between “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Man Without a Face”, but with biblical themes. This well-done movie has beautiful original music and exceptional singing.
In “Rigoletto”, a mysterious, wealthy man has moved into the old mansion on the hill. The new resident, Ari Ribaldi (Joseph Paur), has a disfigured face and is reclusive. The people of Castle Gate are suspicious of him, but when 13-yr-old Bonnie Nelson (Ivey Lloyd) goes to work at the mansion, she discovers that he is a gifted singer, songwriter, and teacher of vocal music. She eventually persuades him to teach her to sing, and as he does, Bonnie sees inner beauty beneath his crusty exterior and her friendship changes his angry demeanor. One by one, the other children in the town also befriend Ribaldi and learn not to judge a person by his appearance.
When strange, unexplainable things begin happening in Castle Gate, rumors begin to circulate that Ribaldi is somehow responsible. The townspeople’s distrust grows into prejudice, and when something terrible happens they see how they have wrongly treated Ribaldi.
I highly recommend this movie because it contains many Christian elements, such as: friendship, love, acceptance, honesty, trust, respect, and virtue. Church is mentioned as a place without fear; a place of inspiration. People who have done wrong are confronted, and getting revenge when one is wronged is rebuked.
The age recommendations are based on the occurrence of several themes. “Rigoletto” is a story about prejudice, which may not be understood by children under 9 years old. Some people make hurtful comments to others, and there are angry outbursts by Ribaldi that might upset younger children. There is one scene when a crowd of people are destructive and violent (not graphic). The only “bad” language is 2 uses of the word “dang.” An “evil spell” is briefly mentioned by a character reading a storybook. Also, a song lyric mentions the phrase “love within myself,” which might be interpreted as humanistic, but I don’t think it was intended that way. I’m sure most would agree that the “negative” points mentioned above pale in comparison to what we are subjected to by Hollywood! A very refreshing change!!
Parents will find helpful questions for discussing the content of the movie on the back of the video box.
Year of Release—1993