On a warm and sunny summer's day, a mother and father take their young daughter Dollie on a riverside outing. A gypsy basket peddler happens along, and is angered when the mother refuses to...
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On a warm and sunny summer's day, a mother and father take their young daughter Dollie on a riverside outing. A gypsy basket peddler happens along, and is angered when the mother refuses to buy his wares. He attacks mother and daughter but is driven off by the father. Later the gypsy sneaks back and kidnaps the girl. A rescue party is organized but the gypsy conceals the child in a 30 gallon barrel which he precariously places on the tail of the wagon. He and his gypsy-wife make their getaway by fording the river with the wagon. The barrel, with Dollie still inside, breaks free, tumbling into into the river; it starts floating toward the peril of a nearby waterfall . . . Written by
Thomas McWilliams <email@example.com>
As the first movie directed by D.W. Griffith, this is certainly of historical interest, both in itself and in comparison with his later, far better efforts. Although "The Adventures of Dollie" is just fair in itself, you can see the director's potential and, even more obviously, the kind of material that he liked to work with.
The setup is one that Griffith would use many times with various modifications, contrasting a conventional American family with a person or persons of whom Griffith disapproved, and bringing them into conflict. In this case, it is a pair of gypsy vagabonds who are responsible for pulling a young girl out of her seemingly idyllic family situation and placing her in a series of perils. Much of the time, the story looks forced or contrived. Yet only a few years later, Griffith would tell very similar stories in such a way that you could hardly help being moved to whatever emotions he wanted you to feel.
Although Griffith is often given too much credit for inventing new techniques, he certainly deserves credit for taking many of the rudimentary techniques of the era and systematically figuring out how to use them to maximum effect. A few years later, he would have added a couple of very brief moments at the beginning to maximize audience sympathy for Dollie, he would have provided a more believable motivation for the vagabonds' actions, and he would have found a way to make the audience feel a stronger sense of danger during Dollie's trip down the river.
Even here, though, his story-telling skills are evident. The print in one of Kino's excellent historical collections is missing all of the inter-titles, and yet there is never a moment when the action is not perfectly clear.
Dollie's 'adventures' are actually rather frightening, when you think about them for a while. But Griffith soon learned how to save his audiences this effort, by devising a wealth of resourceful ways to make sure that viewers did not miss the points he wanted to make.
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