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Good idea, but stiffly filmed, and a bit uncomplicated for a drama
The Struggle (1931)
There is one main reason to see this filmit is D.W. Griffith's last. Whatever horrors he is responsible for supporting the KKK in "Birth of a Nation," he was a maverick, a brilliant innovator. This is the end of the line, twenty years after he got going full steam.
The theme here is so prominent it almost dwarfs the plotdrinking. And getting drunk. The first example of a woman being drunk at a party is almost laughable, at least to those of us who have seen more than one person who has drunk "too much."
The filming here is typical Griffith, and he moves the story through the very years of his career, and the scenes update from the teens to the twenties to the "present," meaning 1931, a year or so before the end of Prohibition. You can make a case, I think, for some kind of radical fracturing of the plot, with a whole slew of characters and story lines started in the beginning of the movie and never followed up. It avoids normal linear storytelling.
It's tough to compare to other movies from 1931this was still generally a rough time for the movie industry getting used to sound, but we are starting to see masterful meldings of visual and aural components, along with the consistency of acting and plot. The camera doesn't do much moving, and the sound is sometimes muddled or coarse, but you can rise above the limitations and see glimmers of both brilliance and depth. Trulyglimmers I mean. This isn't a brilliant movie.
There is a pretty linear downward trend here, and almost predictable. And the scenes are increasingly simple, showing interior rooms from one point of view. What holds it up at the best moments is some intense acting (the little girl, among the brightest spots). But it's no masterpiece, and could easily be avoided on your watch list.
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