Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (whom Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Gabriel de Gravone
It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom ... See full summary »
A young orphan girl, courted by an unpleasant older wealthy man who has a hold over her adoptive mother, falls in love with a young stranger at a party. Odd noises begin to be heard as a ... See full summary »
A wealthy young Southern aristocrat, Joseph, graduates from a seminary and, before he takes charge of his assigned parish, decides to go out and see what "the real world" is all about. He ... See full summary »
Susie, a plain young country girl, secretly loves a neighbor boy, William. She believes in him and sacrifices much of her own happiness to promote his own ambitions, all without his ... See full summary »
John Logan leaves his parents and sweetheart in bucolic Happy Valley to make his fortune in the city. Those he left behind become miserable and beleaguered in his absence, but after several... See full summary »
Lydia Yeamans Titus,
On a warm and sunny summer's day, a mother and father take their young daughter Dollie on a riverside outing. A gypsy basket peddler happens along, and is angered when the mother refuses to... See full summary »
Arthur V. Johnson,
Henriette and Louise, a foundling, are raised together as sisters. When Louise goes blind, Henriette swears to take care of her forever. They go to Paris to see if Louise's blindness can be cured, but are separated when an aristocrat lusts after Henriette and abducts her. Only Chevalier de Vaudrey is kind to her, and they fall in love. The French Revolution replaces the corrupt Aristocracy with the equally corrupt Robespierre. De Vaudrey, who has always been good to peasants, is condemned to death for being an aristocrat, and Henriette for harboring him. Will revolutionary hero Danton, the only voice for mercy in the new regime, be able to save them from the guillotine? Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
D.W. Griffith used this movie as a means of commenting, obliquely, on contemporary politics of his time. He drew parallels between the anarchist mobs that overthrew the French aristocrats, and what he says in opening titles to the film are the present American dangers of succumbing to the kind of "anarchy and Bolshevism" he perceived in the recent Russian Revolution. It is a great historical irony that those Bolsheviks Griffith railed against were quite smitten with the director's incomparable ways of generating film tension in crosscutting as well as his cinematic means of conveying good and evil via sophisticated editing and framing techniques. As the father of film syntax Griffith was an enormous influence on the Soviet filmmakers Sergei M. Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin, who were inspired by many of his films including the anti-Bolshevik Orphans of the Storm (1921). See more »
Early in the Paris scenes there are two bare-chested revolutionaries. One has visible tan lines showing that he had worn a 20s lifeguard-style two-strap bathing suit. See more »
A masterpiece from one of the great innovators of early cinema
First of all, I find it desperately necessary to remind the viewer of silent movies of the danger of analyzing these pieces under the lens of the modern cinemagoer. The aesthetic values of silent cinema are incommensurable with the values of modern cinema. Aside from the obvious difference that one relies purely on image while the other has the benefit of sound, we must also not forget that the cinema of the silent era is cinema in its infancy, in a constant state of the most early self-discovery (which is not to say that cinema has necessarily "grown up" or "progressed" into our modern era; our cinema today is only different than the cinema of the silent era, neither better nor worse.) Basically, we should check ourselves before we ridicule these films on the basis of irising, masking, et cetera and ESPECIALLY the exaggerated emotion and overblown gesturing of the actors. The conventions of the art of acting have, of course, their basis in that of the theatre, which preceded film, and where emphatic gesturing and stressed emotion was conventional in conveying story even to those seated in the back row.
All editorializing aside, Griffith's _Orphans of the Storm_ is a shining example of the director's masterful grasp of narrative cinema. The story is almost Dickensian in its feel, from its very beginning alternating between no less than five separate subplots, all of which become inextricably intertwined before the backdrop of the larger plot of the impending revolution in France. The acting performances are not, in fact, excessively overplayed, but are actually quite subtle and touching, especially those of the two orphans, the Gish sisters.
The visuals are stunning: the costumes and decor are lush and the recreation of late 18th century Paris is excellent. Most impressive to me is Griffith's expert command of montage, primarily through intercutting, in creating a engrossing story that, while complex in structure, is easily grasped. The film starts out on wobbly legs, but soon breaks into a steady gallop, raging through the glorious revolution to an admittedly predictable, yet satisfying conclusion. A grand achievement for one of the titans of early cinema: I give it a 9/10.
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