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This film is part of a collection entitled "American Film Archives:
Vol. 3: Disc 1". The DVDs deal specifically with American short films
that deal with various social issues. These are the sort of films that
usually would be forgotten or lost had it not been for some film
preservationists work. Now this set certainly isn't for everyone, as
the content is a bit dry. However, for history teachers (like myself)
and cinemaniacs (again, that would be me), it's an invaluable set.
HOPE, A RED CROSS SEAL STORY is a short film made by the Edison Company in 1912. At 14 minutes, it's actually pretty long for this time period--full-length films as we know them today were very rare.
The story begins with an employee with the Red Cross trying to solicit donations in a rural town. However, the town banker refuses, as in a letter he states that it's a disease of city folk. However, his own daughter soon comes down with the dreaded disease--thus ruining her chance to marry and forcing her to go to the dreaded sanitarium.
This sort of mortality tale would definitely be seen as overly melodramatic and old fashioned today (particularly when the fiancé laments her poor fate), but the film isn't bad for the era. It manages to tell the story without quite the usual high level of melodrama and is reasonably realistic, as tuberculosis was an incredibly deadly disease at the time. Watchable and worth seeing.
Hope, a Red Cross Seal Story (1912)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
At this time this Edison short was made, Tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in America and this film serves as a warning as well as giving hope that the disease doesn't have to mean death. An elderly man refuses to donate money to a Tuberculosis fund but soon his daughter (Gertrude McCoy) comes down with the disease. This film certainly comes off too dramatic today but at the time of release this was certainly serious stuff. McCoy is very good in her role as is Charles Ogle in his small role. The direction is also quite nice and handles the story well. The film tries to give hope to those with the disease and this also comes off quite well but even with all that said, the film just doesn't come off as powerful as I'm sure it once did.
This is the annual Red Cross Seal picture that the Edison Company produces in co-operation with the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis. As philanthropists we feel that we ought to further the picture as much as we can, but as critics we cannot report that the audience liked it; too many showed that they didn't. It is not good entertainment, as was the first Seal picture, two years ago. The trouble is that from first to last it has too obviously been forced into the pattern of the committee's purpose; it was too plainly made to teach. The lesson is valuable, and is worth putting before every audience. - The Moving Picture World, November 30, 1912
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