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Hearts of the World (1918)

 -  Drama | War  -  June 1918 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 580 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 10 critic

Young lovers in a French village are torn apart with the coming of the Great War.

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(English translation), (scenario)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adolph Lestina ...
The Grandfather
Josephine Crowell ...
The Mother
...
The Girl - Marie Stephenson
...
The Boy - Douglas Gordon Hamilton
Jack Cosgrave ...
The Father of the Boy
Kate Bruce ...
The Mother of the Boy
...
The Boy's Littlest Brother
Marion Emmons ...
The Boy's Other Brother (as M. Emmons)
Francis Marion ...
The Boy's Other Brother (as F. Marion)
...
The Little Disturber
Robert Anderson ...
Monsieur Cuckoo
George Fawcett ...
The Village Carpenter
George Siegmann ...
Von Strohm
Fay Holderness ...
The Innkeeper
L. Lowry ...
A Deaf and Blind Musician
Edit

Storyline

A group of youngsters grow up and love in a peaceful French village. But war intrudes and peace is shattered. The German army invades and occupies village, bringing both destruction and torture. The young people of the village resist, some successfully, others tragically, until French troops retake the town. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

BATTLE SCENES ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF FRANCE- TAKEN UNDER AUSPICES OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT (original poster-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

TV-PG
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

June 1918 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Love's Struggle  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was commissioned by Great Britain, which hoped that a depiction of WWI would help spur the United States to join the allies. Although D.W. Griffith had the cooperation of the British, French and Belgian governments to film in their territories, his cameraman, G.W. Bitzer, was of German descent and was not allowed in France. Griffith used an army cameraman instead. See more »

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Featured in Hollywood (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
All This and World War Won
15 December 2007 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Two American families, the Hamiltons and the Stephensons, have immigrated to a tranquil French village. As the film begins, Robert Harron (as "the Boy" Douglas Hamilton) and Lillian Gish (as "the Girl" Marie Stephenson) return home from separate trips. Lillian is obviously infatuated with Mr. Harron, and sets out to win his heart. Meanwhile, singer Dorothy Gish (as "The Little Disturber") arrives in town; and she, with "perseverance and perfume", also sets her sights on handsome Harron. While Dorothy's efforts at seduction are valiant, Harron proposes to Lillian. As they plan their wedding, their lives are interrupted by a bigger "disturber" - The Great War (now called World War I)…

This film, another huge hit for the director, was "commissioned" by the British government (note the introduction), and must have secured the blessings of both the U.S. and French governments. The purpose was to create a pro-war, propaganda epic. Although the film is patriotic, and the war is never exactly shown as unnecessary; it leaves an unmistakable impression as an ANTI-war film. So, what started as "A Love Story of the Great War" becomes "A Love Story Interrupted by a Great War".

Griffith reveals his true anti-war sentiments with the statement, "After all, does war ever settle any question? The South was ruined - thousands of lives were sacrificed -- by the Civil War; yet, did it really settle the Black and White problem in this country?" (This question also offers, arguably, some redemption for Griffith's tendency for racial insensitivity. It's too bad Griffith's "The Greatest Thing in Life" is currently unavailable; in it, Harron shocked audiences by kissing a dying Black soldier.)

In hindsight, it's easy to dismiss "Hearts of the World" as a Griffith production line effort. While it's derivative in film techniques (Griffith's own); it still equals, and sometimes bests, earlier work - for example, witness the improved upon (from "The Birth of a Nation") climatic ending, with Gish frantically trying to escape George Siegmann (as Von Strohm)'s clutches. This, and the battle sequences are, at least, up to the standards set by Griffith; so, it may be unfair to think of "Hearts of the World" as relatively minor. It would likely have won a "Best Picture" of the year, had they been given. Robert Harron would have won an additional "Best Actor" award; and, while Lillian Gish might have lost to Mary Pickford's "Stella Maris", sister Dorothy Gish would have earned a "Best Supporting Actress" award.

Also watch for… G.W. Bitzer's amazing camera work. The explicit, but appropriate scene of a mother nursing her baby during wartime. Dorothy licking her lips over Harron, but settling for "Cuckoo" Robert Anderson. Griffith's parallel symbolism, right down to Gish's goslings and Harron's little brothers. Lillian wandering into madness, and spending her wedding night with her beloved's "corpse". Griffith "regulars" Siegmann, and "mothers" Kate Bruce and Josephine Crowell, who always stand out in lesser roles. Harron very quietly falling in love with the infatuated Lillian, while being pursued by seductive Dorothy; demonstrating the difference between lust (when he kisses Dorothy back) and love (when he eyes Lillian's figure).

There are members of the Harron and Gish families in the cast (and a Walthall), which would be nice to have somebody identify (they are probably somewhere in the opening). Noel Coward may be difficult to recognize; he follows Gish, early on, with a wheelbarrow. Erich von Stroheim is very easy to spot, clicking his Hun heels for the camera. Incredibly, scene-stealing littlest brother Ben Alexander grew up to serve (memorably, as Franz) in Lewis Milestone's "All Quiet on the Western Front" (which owes some debt to this film); later, he co-stared in "Dragnet".

********** Hearts of the World (3/12/18) D.W. Griffith ~ Robert Harron, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Ben Alexander


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