In 1912 D.W. Griffith and his stock company of forty cast and crew were travelling to New York from Los Angeles on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad when they stopped in Albuquerque and stayed for a week at the Alvarado Hotel. He filmed A Pueblo Legend on location at Isleta Pueblo, where he declared he found the " finest scenic opportunities ever put into a motion picture." The opening title frame reads: Before the coming of the Spanish, at the Spring Dance of the Green Boughs at Isleta Pueblo a young stranger girl from Hopi falls in love with a handsome war captain ( Great Brother ). The Sky Priest emerges from his Kiva and orders him to go in Quest of the " Turquoise Sky Stone," mystic symbol of happiness..... Mary Pickford plays the Hopi Maiden who falls in love with Great Brother played by Wilfred Lucas, but before they can marry he must find the stone of happiness, and in his quest he encounters enemy apaches and a dramatic battle ensues. Eventually the maiden finds the great stone of happiness and saves Great Brother, finally they are reunited and the closing scene is of Great Brother and the Maiden wrapped together in a wedding blanket. What struck me most about this film is Griffith's intense use of the location, that it almost drowns out most of the story. Apparently Griffith and cameraman Billy Bitzer were so mesmerized by the scenic location that they sacrificed dramatic tension for static views of the Pueblo's architectural backdrop and lingering shots of ceremonial dances. Indeed in one scene Mary looks on as if she is a tourist rather than the star of the film. All the actors are dressed in authentic looking costumes and Mary herself really looks the part of a Hopi Maiden with her dark hairdo. After watching this film I did some research and discovered the wedding blanket was authentic as it and other artifacts used in the film were borrowed from the Fred Harvey Curio Museum and Indian Building. This film is really a historical piece and great viewing for those with an interest in early silent cinema and the first films to be made on location in New Mexico.
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