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On the estate of Senora Moreno in Southern California, the senora's adopted daughter Ramona lives. She falls in love with Alessandro, an Indian of noble heritage. When her adoptive mother ... See full summary »
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Henry B. Walthall,
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>
If you had not read the original novel or at least read up on the film "Ramona", I don't think you'd have much of a notion of what is transpiring. Though this is only a seventeen minute movie, the whole of a novel is presented to us. If it wasn't for its landmark status as representative of early silent films it wouldn't pass muster.
This is a tale of the inequitable treatment of Southern California Native Americans. Ramona is smitten by a member of the local tribe, and they eventually are wed despite the objections of her sort-of foster mother. The couple are run out of their home by land-grabbing white settlers. All this ends badly.
Consider that the novel "Ramona" was published in 1884 and that it achieved enormous popularity, so D. W. Griffith's film was destined to be a success. But besides its place in film history for the almost overwhelming interest of the story to the public it was one of the many pieces of work D. W. Griffith was churning out, making history just in the doing.
According to Darling Kindersley's "Chronicle of the Cinema", Griffith went on a "working vacation" one in which he shot 25 films in four months as he and his ensemble toured California. One of the films made was this, "Ramona."
Paul Spehr drives home the importance of "Ramona" and other Griffith efforts around this time:
it is camera work and editing that make the most startling advances during this period. Griffith "publicly laid claim to the introduction of 'large or close-up figures, distant views as represented first in 'Ramona', the 'switchback' (cross cutting gc), sustained suspense, the 'fade out', and restraint in expression', raising motion picture acting to the higher plane which has won for it recognition as a genuine art.'
One quite noticeable aspect of this film is the lack of dialogue frames. Instead there are graphic text frames inserted occasionally to detail what is transpiring. But in no sense is the filmed footage tied to the actual dialogue we see. But as mentioned above without prior knowledge of the subject the movie is so abbreviated that it doesn't come close to conveying the whole story.
It has taken me far longer to write this review than to see the movie.
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