Ramona, a young girl growing up on her adoptive mother's rancho in California, falls in love with the Indian lad Alessandro. When Ramona is denied permission to marry Alessandro, the two ... See full summary »
Ramona, a young girl growing up on her adoptive mother's rancho in California, falls in love with the Indian lad Alessandro. When Ramona is denied permission to marry Alessandro, the two lovers elope, only to find a life of great hardship and unhappiness amidst the bigotry and greed of the white landowners. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mary Pickford...as a Spanish-American Indian girl?!
This film is part of a DVD set entitled "Treasures III"--a set of four DVDs all about social issues and reform. The fourth disk (where you'll find this one) is about ethnic issues in particular.
In many ways, this film is reminiscent of the later film, THE SQUAW MAN as both are about people falling for and marrying Native-Americans--though in RAMONA, it involves a Spanish (not Mexican) lady and SQUAW MAN was an Englishman. In D.W. Griffith's own "special" way, he was trying to promote racial harmony and understanding--this, the same man who made BIRTH OF A NATION, a film that almost single-handedly was responsible for the rebirth of the KKK!! Oddly, RAMONA stars, of all people, Mary Pickford! At the time, he was one of Griffith's favorite stars, but she looked little like a Spaniard--even under the dark wig and makeup. Why he didn't get a woman who looked the ethnic part is odd considering this was a relatively expensive film when it was made. In 1936, the film was remade starring Loretta Young(!) in this role!! At least the 1928 version starred Delores Del Rio--a Mexican lady.
Ramona falls for an American-Indian, but is attacked by her family. Likewise, her love interest is also punished and he is eventually sent to a reservation. In an odd twist, Ramona learns that she, too, has American-Indian blood--thus making her love not so forbidden after all (and more palatable to the more racist elements seeing the film).
Now that she has chosen the Indian life, she sees how nasty persecution of her new people is by the Whites. She also needs to learn what it is like to live a simple life of poverty. This is a nice attempt by Griffith to promote better treatment for natives. Also, the film features some wonderful cinematography at this point in the film--with amazing vistas of the American West. Sadly, however, this is ruined by a goofy scene where her husband goes crazy and starts jumping about wildly. This is not one of silent film's best examples of acting. Subtle it ain't. And, to make it worse, after he collapses, Ramona herself collapses over the now dead body of her lover.
For 1910, this is very good stuff. Too bad that Griffith lost all the good will and karma he generated in this film with his later infamous BIRTH OF A NATION. Even INTOLERANCE (which followed BIRTH OF A NATION) couldn't do much to improve his image today. Most people just remember him for his Klan-loving mega-epic about the evils of letting Black people "out of their place". Ugghh!
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