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Enoch Arden: Part I (1911)

 -  Short | Drama  -  12 June 1911 (USA)
6.3
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Enoch Arden, a humble fisherman, marries Annie Lee. He signs on as a sailor to make more money to support their growing family. A storm wrecks his ship, but Enoch swims to a deserted island... See full summary »

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Title: Enoch Arden: Part I (1911)

Enoch Arden: Part I (1911) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Wilfred Lucas ...
Enoch Arden
Linda Arvidson ...
Annie Lee
Francis J. Grandon ...
Philip Ray
George Nichols ...
The Captain
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Edward Dillon
Joseph Graybill ...
A Shipwrecked Sailor
Grace Henderson
Florence Lee ...
On the Beach
Jeanie Macpherson ...
On the Beach
Alfred Paget ...
A Shipwrecked Sailor
...
On the Beach
Edit

Storyline

Enoch Arden, a humble fisherman, marries Annie Lee. He signs on as a sailor to make more money to support their growing family. A storm wrecks his ship, but Enoch swims to a deserted island. Annie waits vainly for his return. Written by Anonymous

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Short | Drama

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Release Date:

12 June 1911 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When combined with Part II, which is really the second reel of this film, the total film length adds up to 1997 feet. See more »

Connections

Version of Enoch Arden (1914) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tennyson's poem becomes a somber silent drama in two parts
30 August 2003 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Taken in its entirety this short film ranks with the strongest dramas D.W. Griffith made at Biograph, notable for its understated acting and for cameraman Billy Bitzer's beautifully composed images. Although it lacks the sort of bravura, race-to-the-rescue sequence that would become the director's specialty, Enoch Arden has a stately melancholy atmosphere that lingers with the viewer long after it's over. Historically speaking, this film is also notable for the director's early experiment with a longer running time. Single reel works running about ten minutes were the standard product of the day, and so the notoriously conservative executives who controlled the American Biograph Company opposed longer films, and tried to discourage Griffith from expanding past the one-reel format. The likeliest reason was the same one Hollywood executives cite today: longer movies mean fewer screenings daily, thus less profit. (Some things never change!) But when Biograph released Enoch Arden in two parts, with instructions for exhibitors to play them on successive days, audiences objected and asked to see the entire film in one sitting. Exhibitors bowed to public demand, and the two-reel drama was born.

Viewing Part One of the film today it's easy to see why audiences reacted as they did; the first reel establishes a compelling, suspenseful situation involving sympathetic characters, but ends without resolving it. For those viewers unfamiliar with the Tennyson poem which served as the film's source material this first portion is intriguing, but ends inconclusively.

The story is set in an 18th century fishing village, and concerns a romantic triangle involving fisherman Enoch Arden, his girlfriend Annie Lee, and a wealthy rival named Philip Ray. Enoch wins the girl, they marry, and within a few years they have three children. In order to provide for his young family Enoch chooses to go to sea on a fishing vessel for an extended voyage, over the objections of Annie Lee. When the ship founders, Enoch and two other sailors make their way to an island, but his shipmates die, leaving Enoch the sole survivor. Annie Lee, meanwhile, anxiously watches for his return while Philip Ray stands by.

This is where Part One ends, and while the exposition has been well handled and the production values are first rate for the era, the ending is abrupt and the story is obviously incomplete. Just as we become fully involved in the situation, the film ends. (Although for modern-day viewers, Parts One & Two have been conveniently joined for video and DVD releases.) It's no surprise that audiences of 1911 demanded to see the second reel post haste, for Griffith's Enoch Arden must be seen in its entirety to be a fully satisfying experience.


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