Rappaccini’s Daughter (review)

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic short story plays like an 18th-century episode of The Twilight Zone, exuding an enigmatic romanticism, in this 1980 production from PBS’s erstwhile American Short Story Collection. The sound and video are quite atrocious — near Zapruder quality, actually — but the power of the tale of forbidden love and twisted devotion shines through nevertheless. Kristoffer Tabori plays a university student in Italy who becomes entranced with the sheltered daughter (Kathleen Beller) of his neighbor, one of the earliest of mad scientists, only to become ensnared in the crazy old loon’s trap as well. Intended primarily for educational markets, the disc includes author and cast biographies, a printable study guide, the original PBS introduction by Henry Fonda, and more.

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