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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
The outstanding atmosphere makes this classic melodrama especially memorable. The story and the acting would have made a pretty good movie by themselves, but it is "The Wind" itself that makes it something more. Not only is the constant presence of the wind a well-conceived figurative parallel to the events in the characters' lives, but making it work on the screen was also a remarkable technical achievement for its era.
Lillian Gish is deservedly praised for her role as Letty, a young woman from the east who travels to a strange and unforgiving region. This is the kind of role that Gish always seemed born to play. But Lars Hanson also does an excellent job in an even more difficult role. In order for the story to work, Hanson has to make his character fully sympathetic to the audience, while at the same time making it plausible that Gish's character does not care for him very much.
It's still very impressive the way that the powerful prairie winds are made such an indispensable part of the movie. It must have involved a great deal of work and sacrifice to achieve such realism without fancy technology. And it is masterful the way that the howling, never-ceasing winds are used to parallel the conflicts among the characters. This is one of the fine classics of the silent era that should not be missed.
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