Beckoning Flame (1916)

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Japanese actress Tsuru Aoki made one of her rare film appearances without her actor-husband Sessue Hayakawa in Thomas H. Ince's The Beckoning Flame. The story is predicated on the ancient East Indian tradition of "suttee," in which the widow of a dead man willingly sacrificed herself on her husband's funeral pyre. But heroine Janira (Aoki) is disinclined to give up her life in this manner, thus she is quite relieved when she is rescued from the flames by handsome Englishman Harry Dickson (Henry Woodruff). Janira falls in love with her savior, and for a while the two live together without benefit of clergy. By film's end, however, Janira has come to the unhappy conclusion that Harry would be better off among "his own kind"; thus, she builds her own pyre and sets fire to herself, finishing off what she started in the first reel.