|Index||5 reviews in total|
"The Fugitive" is a surprisingly moving D.W. Griffith Civil War short
with a focus on the home front. Two sons named John (one from a Union
family and one from a Confederate family) go off to war leaving behind
their mothers and fiancées. Their respective foraging parties encounter
each other and exchange fire, and the Union party runs into the woods
near the home of the Confederate John. During the pursuit the two Johns
fire on each other and Confederate John is killed. Union John (Edwin
August) seeks shelter in a nearby house and persuades the mother (Kate
Bruce) of the soldier he just killed to hide him. She continues to
conceal him even after learning that he killed her son, basically to
spare his mother the grief that she is experiencing.
Griffith shorts frequently emphasized this "brother against brother" theme of the war, probably because he came from the border state of Kentucky which furnished units to both armies.
Note that the confederate home has a portrait of George Washington on display. Also note the almost contemporary look and manner of Dorothy West (who plays the fiancée of the Confederate soldier), she looks and acts little different than a typical 2006 high school girl with acting aspirations.
The writer of this film was John MacDonagh, who fought under the command of his brother Thomas MacDonagh, signatory of the Proclamation of Independence and one of the seven leaders, in the 1916 Rising in Ireland. MacDonagh made other films - most famous today is his film of Michael Collins selling the first bonds of the Dail Loan to a succession of national figures including Grace Plunkett (MacDonagh's sister-in-law; her sister Muriel (née Gifford) was married to Thomas MacDonagh), and his brother Joseph, who would die on hunger strike on Christmas Day 1922. John MacDonagh went on to write several films - The Casey Millions, Wicklow Gold, Willie O'Reilly and His Colleen Bawn - and to be an entrepreneurial manager of the Queen's Theatre in Dublin, before joining 2RN, later RTE, the Irish national radio and television station, where he worked until retirement in 1947.
In the middle of the American Civil War, in a peaceful valley, a
foraging Union soldier meets a Confederate Picket and shoots him. What
will the Confederate soldier's mother do when she discovers the refugee
she has sheltered may have killed her child?
Griffith, reviled for the racism of BIRTH OF A NATION, sometimes by those familiar with the work and sometimes by those who have no idea what is in that movie, saw the Civil War as a tragedy for all Americans, full of complex problems for which there were no solutions. THE FUGITIVE, although not one of his best works, has been made available on DVD by Kino and is well worth your viewing time.
Fugitive, The (1910)
*** (out of 4)
Two soldiers, John the Southerner (Edwin August) and John the Northerner (Edward Dillon) leave their sweethearts and mothers behind to go fight in the war. Of course the two end up meeting on the battle field where the Southerner is killed. Soon afterwards the Northerner tries to take shelter at the home of his victim's mother. This is another interesting short from Griffith dealing with the Civil War. As you may notice none of them are that traditional and instead of doing an easy story the director tries to look at different aspects of the war. This time out the film really looks at the women who are often left behind wondering if their son or lovers will ever return. That aspect is a unique one and makes this film worth watching even when the story itself becomes a little far fetched. The two actors playing the soldiers do a fine job but it's Kate Bruce who steals the show as the Union soldiers mother. Dorothy West has a small role as well.
In the sting of the Civil War, mothers and sweethearts must wait and
worry as their sons and lovers go off to the front. Forthwith, a
Southerner named John (Edwin August) goes off to fight for the
Confederacy. Meanwhile, a Northerner named John (Edward Dillon) goes
off to fight for the Union. Naturally, the two opposing soldiers named
John have a mother (Kate Bruce or Clara T. Bracey) and a sweetheart
(Dorothy West or Lucy Cotton) waiting for their safe return. As fate
would have it, the Johns meet on the battlefield, and one shoots the
other. Later, Mr. August (of the Union) finds himself alone and
pursued; the only refuge is the home belonging to Ms. Bruce, mother of
the Confederate officer he shot. Thinking first as a mother, she hides
"The Fugitive". Then, her wounded son is brought home! A nice idea, but
rather slightly told, from director D.W. Griffith.
*** The Fugitive (11/7/10) D.W. Griffith ~ Edwin August, Edward Dillon, Kate Bruce
|Plot summary||Ratings||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|