The 1916 production Cenere represented the only film appearance of legendary Italian stage actress Eleonora Duse. Upon completing the film, the 58-year-old Duse decided that the motion-picture medium was not the ideal forum for her talents and vowed never to make another picture. At the time, she said sadly "I made the same mistake that nearly everyone has made. But something quite different is needed. I am too old for it, isn't it a pity?" Existing prints of Cenere suggest that Duse would have been an ideal screen actress; at a time when most stage veterans tore a passion to tatters, her performance was a masterpiece of subtlety, in which she superbly conveyed all manner of emotions through the expressive use of her hands. She was particularly effective in her death scene, especially in comparison to the overwrought histrionics of the actor playing her son. Four years after Eleonora Duse's death in 1924, Cenere was reissued in the U.S. as Madre.
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