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Innocent and naive Letty Mason moves from her Virginia home to Sweet Water on the western prairies to live on the ranch of her cousin Beverly, his wife Cora and their three children. Letty quickly learns how inhospitable the environment in Sweet Water is, the most obvious item being the incessant wind. But equally inhospitable are the unrefined way the people in Sweet Water live to which she is unaccustomed, and Cora, who believes Letty has come to steal Beverly away from her. As such, Cora orders Letty out of her and Bev's house. With no money, Letty is forced to accept one of the marriage proposal she receives, the lesser evil being that from Bev and Cora's ranching neighbor, Lige Hightower, a man who she does not love. Despite a less than harmonious start, Letty, in part due to her isolation as she is more often than not forced to stay inside due to the wind, begins to have affection for Lige, who wants to do right by her, and who promises to send her back to Virginia when he is ... Written by
I've watched The Wind several times, and I am convinced that it is one of the greatest movies ever. It is certainly the best silent western, and Lillian Gish has never been so profound as she is here.
What lifts it to the rank of a masterpiece is the passion of the direction and camerawork, and it certainly shows the advantage in having a mature artist like director Victor Sjöström. The central character is, as promised, the wind, and the raw power of nature supersedes the melodrama. You become engulfed in the tempests and hurricanes, and it is only to easy to understand that they might drive the young lady mad.
Lillian Gish also does a magnificent job; her usual overacting is actually appropriate for this role, as the powerful cinematic images have established the likeliness that she is falling to pieces. This surely has to be her greatest performance. Dorothy Cumming is also equally powerful as the embittered "other woman", one of the most evil characters to be found in a western. The other actors are adequate and satisfying without rising to the level of genius. Their acting is natural and unforced, unlike most silents.
It definitely gains from being a silent movie, all that dialogue would become a distraction if we had to listen to it. It helps that Thames Silents Orchestra has composed a beautiful and moving soundtrack, one that would sound good on a CD recording.
If you have any appreciation for silent film, rush out and get this one today!
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