A fascinating work of high artistry, "Judith of Bethulia" will not only rank as an achievement in this country, but will make foreign producers sit up and take notice. It has a signal and ... See full summary »
A fascinating work of high artistry, "Judith of Bethulia" will not only rank as an achievement in this country, but will make foreign producers sit up and take notice. It has a signal and imperative message, and the technique displayed throughout an infinity of detail, embracing even the delicate film tinting and toning, marks an encouraging step in the development of the new art. Ancient in story and settings, it is modern in penetrative interpretation - it is a vivid history of one phase of the time it concerns, and is redemptive as well as relative, a lesson from one of those vital struggles that made and unmade nations as well as individuals, yet it is not without that inspiring influence that appeals powerfully to human sense of justice. The entire vigorous action of the play works up to the personal sacrifice of Judith of Bethulia, a perilous chance she takes for the sake of the lives and happiness of her people. She dares expose herself to overwhelming humiliation and dishonor ... Written by
Moving Picture World 1914
A newer restored print of the film is being restored and will be released to limited theater engagements and worldwide DVD release slated for 2008 by the original company that made it, American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. See more »
When Judith goes out into the city and begins to bless the young mother's baby, an extra enters the shot in the left foreground, blocking the action. She or he quickly retreats back out of view, as someone obviously yelled out. See more »
The wheels of a cinema revolution beginning to churn.
D.W. Griffith fuses Thomas Bailey Aldrich's long poem of Judith's story with its basis in the Apocrypha to derive this somewhat austere and powerful film of the widow's noble sacrifice to save her besieged city and its inhabitants from an invading Assyrian army, led by Holofernes. With JUDITH as Griffith's first feature length effort, he turns away from the commercial needs of the Biograph Company, the management of which desires to maintain its policy of making only one and two reelers, and his expenditure of $36000 is double the amount budgeted, reflecting his expanded use of sets and extras and providing the requisite exercise in preparation for his next major work: BIRTH OF A NATION, made as a free agent. Eighteen year old Blanche Sweet's performance is striking as she utilizes all of her wide range of expressivity, uncommon in one so young, to mirror the emotions of a woman who is physically attracted to a man, Henry Walthall as Holofernes, toward whom her only possible final act will be his death by her hand, as depicted in many a well-known painting. The supporting cast serves the sparsely titled production well, with emotional performances from Mae Marsh and Robert Harron as endangered lovers, and among the many bit players who animate the work may be seen Lionel Barrymore, Harry Carey, Antonio Moreno and Lillian and Dorothy Gish as victims of the invaders. This version is the four reeler rather than the one of six reels released later and is Griffith's answer to the full-length epics which were being imported from Europe; its release was delayed a year by Biograph to ensure that the director had left its employ, but this brought scant gain to the company: Biograph was soon defunct, while Griffith's star was rising.
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