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Orphans of the Storm (1921)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, Romance | 1922 (Poland)
Two orphaned sisters are caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, encountering misery and love along the way.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

Adolphe d'Ennery (novel), Eugène Cormon (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lillian Gish ... Henriette Girard
Dorothy Gish ... Louise Girard
Joseph Schildkraut ... Chevalier de Vaudrey
Frank Losee ... Count de Linieres
Katherine Emmet Katherine Emmet ... Countess de Linieres
Morgan Wallace ... Marquis de Praille
Lucille La Verne ... Mother Frochard
Sheldon Lewis ... Jacques Frochard
Frank Puglia ... Pierre Frochard
Creighton Hale ... Picard
Monte Blue ... Danton
Sidney Herbert ... Robespierre
Lee Kohlmar Lee Kohlmar ... King Louis XVI
Marcia Harris ... Henriette's Landlady
Adolph Lestina Adolph Lestina ... Doctor
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

did you see--"BIRTH OF A NATION?" "INTOLERENCE?" "HEARTS OF THE WORLD?" "BROKEN BLOSSOMS?" "WAY DOWN EAST?" The genius who gave these mighty motion picture milestones to the world, has achieved his greatest success in a masterpiece profoundly excellent. It is D.W.Griffith's "Orphans OF THE Storm" (Print Ad- Syracuse Evening Telegram, ((Syracuse, NY)) 27 September 1922)

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William J. Walsh, an extra playing a soldier, was killed on set when a prop rifle he was leaning on went off by accident; although the weapon was loaded with a blank cartridge, the wadding from a blank fired at point-blank range is capable of inflicting serious injury or death. See more »

Goofs

As Danton with the People's Court pardons races to the guillotine execution site, the dusty street beneath the charging feet of his group's horses shows the tire tracks of the camera car preceding them. See more »

Quotes

Chevalier de Vaudrey: An aristocrat - yes - but not an enemy of the people.
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Connections

Referenced in Five Orphans of the Storm (1923) See more »

User Reviews

 
A masterpiece from one of the great innovators of early cinema
27 September 2000 | by thetragicfigureSee all my reviews

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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

None | English

Release Date:

1922 (Poland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Two Orphans See more »

Filming Locations:

Florence, Tuscany, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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