A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film... See full summary »
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Arthur V. Johnson,
A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film continues to contrast the ironic differences between the lives of those who work to grow the wheat and the life of the man who dabbles in its sale for profit. Written by
James Meek <email@example.com>
One of the first films that Griffith used the technique of parallel editing on (a technique he pioneered). It was used to create the effects in the wheat suffocating scene. See more »
When the Wheat King reads the letter regarding his increase in wealth, he is wearing gloves. After he falls into the wheat pit, there is an un-gloved hand reaching for the heavens; however, when they pull him out, he is once again wearing gloves. See more »
A Corner in Wheat is one of the five or six really outstanding Biograph shorts. Here, DW Griffith draws together all the techniques he had been perfecting over his last year in the motion picture business moving actors in depth for maximum effect, restrained, realistic performances, a consistent tempo, succinct, unobtrusive intertitles, atmosphere conveyed through setting, and the varied possibilities of the editing process.
What is most obvious here is the development that Griffith is probably best known for, which is his cross-cutting. He had already explored cross-cutting for excitement or suspense, and even to compare events going on in completely separate locations, but here he is cutting between seemingly separate narratives which, when put together tell one coherent story. He is perhaps the first filmmaker to show social cause and effect on such a grand scale.
There are plenty of other nice touches along the way. Particularly memorable are the shots of the farm family, with the wind pulling at their clothing, and the stark trees and barren landscape mirroring their situation. But what is perhaps the greatest sign of competence here is the way these images give a sense of unity to the whole, with the desolate farm scenes book-ending the short. It's this development of structure that was perhaps Griffith's most important contribution.
A Corner in Wheat is not quite perfect though. In particular, the acting performances are not amazing, and one crowd shot is simply a chaotic mess. Griffith's handling of a cast would improve in the years to come, not to mention the fact that he would later work with some of the brightest stars of the era.
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