Confederate soldier Frank Winslow is terrified of the war and eventually runs away from battle. But when he finds himself behind enemy lines with vital information, he must decide between ... See full summary »
Confederate soldier Frank Winslow is terrified of the war and eventually runs away from battle. But when he finds himself behind enemy lines with vital information, he must decide between his fear and his conscience. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
I think a lot of the impact of this early silence feature film is lost today, but more about that later in the review. When it was released in 1915, attitudes about plot and drama were very different than today. Predictability was expected from movies and what we would consider over-acting was the norm. Also, having white folks run around in black face playing slaves was, unfortunately, pretty widely accepted. And so, by 1915 standards, this is an exceptional movie and one of the earliest full-length films ever made. I think it is a lot better than its much-admired contemporary, BIRTH OF A NATION--which is ponderously long and one of the most racist films made in America. Unfortunately for the makers of this film, people in 1915 preferred BIRTH OF A NATION and it went on to make a ton of money and was hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. That's really a shame, because there are some exceptional aspects to this film that have been overlooked. In particular, the costumes and battle sequences are excellent (though not quite as grand as those in BIRTH OF A NATION) and the story, though very simplistic and predictable, is still compelling. And, its use of two white folks in black makeup, though appalling, is not nearly as offensive as about 90% of the other film.
Now, as for today's audiences, the plot is very very dusty to say the least. Having the son be afraid of war and deserting was excellent, but the contrived way that his own father accidentally shoots and kills him in battle is so over-the-top dramatically (though not in its day). BUT, it is STILL worth seeing for its historical value. Not a great or memorable film, but one of the most watchable of the early feature-length films.
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