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Hearts of the World (1918)

TV-PG  |   |  Drama, War  |  June 1918 (UK)
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Young lovers in a French village are torn apart with the coming of the Great War.



(English translation) (as Capt. Victor Marier) , (scenario) (as M. Gaston de Tolignac)
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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
Von Strohm
Fay Holderness ...
The Innkeeper
L. Lowry ...
A Deaf and Blind Musician


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


D.W. Griffith's Supreme Triumph See more »


Drama | War






Release Date:

June 1918 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Love's Struggle  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cast member Robert Harron's entire family was cast in this film. See more »


Featured in Hollywood (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

The Brutality Of War - From D.W. Griffith
26 September 2001 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

Representative of all the innocent HEARTS OF THE WORLD, two American families living in a picturesque French village experience the horror & devastation of the Great War.

This rarely seen film is the result of a somewhat surprising collaboration between the British government & genius American filmmaker D.W. Griffith. With the hideous World War still burning across Europe, the old men in Downing Street thought it would be well if filmed propaganda was produced which might help induce America into joining The Effort.

After his tremendous achievements with THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) & INTOLERANCE (1916), it was obvious that Griffith was the world's foremost cinematic director. A devout pacifist, he undertook the difficult challenge of turning battlefield horrors into a story suitable for the screen. That accomplished, Griffith actually took some of his cast & crew across the dangerous Atlantic to London (and a meeting with Prime Minister David Lloyd George) and then it was on to France for some quick filming at the front lines.

All of which proved unnecessary. Infuriated by Berlin's unrestricted use of submarine warfare, America declared war on Germany in April of 1917, months before HEARTS OF THE WORLD could be completed back in Hollywood.

While not as innovative or groundbreaking as its two celebrated predecessors, HEARTS OF THE WORLD can stand on its own merits. Filled with Griffith's special touches, its principle value exists in its revelation of his contemporaneous feelings about the War, even as the conflict still raged. He bestowed on it sequences as poignant and harrowing as any in his oeuvre. Who can forget Lillian Gish on her wedding day, driven mad by the bombardment, preparing to spend her bridal night alongside the corpse of her betrothed? Or the sight of three little boys secretly burying their dead mother in a cellar, so her body would not be disgraced by the enemy. Griffith assures scenes such as these are not easily banished from the viewer's memory.

Besides the numinous Miss Gish, appreciation should be extended to Bobby Harron as the film's stalwart hero; this fine young actor would die in 1920 of an accidental gunshot wound, not a suicide as is usually reported. Dorothy Gish plays a feisty, comedic role, giving the film a light touch at welcome intervals. Josephine Crowell & Kate Bruce are memorable as the two tragic mothers, both victims of the war.

Also appearing are a couple of stars in embryo: a young Sir Noël Coward is the extra pushing the wheelbarrow containing Miss Lillian's luggage in her first scene. Technical Supervisor Erich von Stroheim is easily recognizable as a bald German officer; he would eventually dominate Hollywood's silent films of the 1920's, using the full force of his own, rather bizarre, genius.

Special appreciation should be paid to the splendid cinematography of Billy Bitzer, who performed yeoman service for Griffith in several of his epics.

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