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" . It has also been compared with The Phantom of the Opera.
Rigoletto, set in Depression-era America, stars Joseph Paur as Ribaldi/Rigoletto and 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, Bonnie agrees to work for him in exchange for his allowing her family to keep their home. At first, Bonnie believes the man, Ribaldi, is a monster due to his physical deformity and his cold, angry demeanor. When Bonnie finds Ribaldi giving a beautiful princess named Gabriella voice lessons, she realizes that he is a gifted musician and a kind, misunderstood person. Bonnie convinces Ribaldi to give her music lessons.
Meanwhile, many in the town are being evicted from their homes and suspect the mysterious Ribaldi. The villagers spread rumors about Ribaldi and most believe that he is a monster. The children of the town, on the other hand, are drawn to Ribaldi.
Throughout the film, the sick and handicapped people of the village are miraculously healed.
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.
In the climax of the film, while Bonnie is singing in the competition, Georgie, a young girl from the village, goes to visit Ribaldi. Along the way home, Georgie falls into a river, and Ribaldi saves her. When he tries to bring her to town, the townspeople attack him, thinking he has hurt her. 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.
Bonnie returns home to find that Ribaldi has died from his injuries. While visiting his house after the funeral, she hears Ribaldi's piano being played and goes inside. There she finds a man who looks like Ribaldi, only without scars. When Bonnie asks him his name, he says "Some people call me Rigoletto, but you don't believe that, do you?" before leaving 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.
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