Outside of a humble village in Austria, Lea Lyon (Mary Philbin), the daughter of the local Rabbi, happens to meet Russian Prince Constantine (Ivan Mozzhukhin). They are immediately smitten with one another, but Lea is dismayed to learn he is a commander of a division of Cossacks who have persecuted her people. Later Constantine and his Cossacks steal into Austria and take up in Lea's village. Constantine is still infatuated with Lea, but her continued refusal of his advances inflames his cruelty, threatening both Lea and her village.
While most of director Edward H. Sloman's silent films have vanished, one of the best, SURRENDER, is happily still in existence. In his only American film appearance, Ivan Mosjoukine stars as an aristocratic Russian officer who falls in love with winsome Jewish peasant girl Mary Philbin. Not surprisingly, the officer is forbidden to marry the girl, but the juggernaut known as the Soviet Revolution changes everything. After years of deprivation and atonement, Mosjoukine and Philbin are finally reunited. Much of the story is told in the "expressionistic" fashion of the European cinema, with subjective-viewpoint angles and montage sequences abounding. Though the climactic revolution scene is the one everybody remembers, the film is at its best in its quieter moments, notably the charming sequence in which hero and heroine meet for the first time. SURRENDER was based on Lea Lyon, a play by Alexander Brody.
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