6.9/10
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9 user 3 critic

Isn't Life Wonderful (1924)

A family of Polish refugees tries to survive in post-World War I Germany. For a while it seems that they are making it, but soon the economic and political deterioration in the country begins to take their toll.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

D.W. Griffith, Geoffrey Moss (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Carol Dempster ... Inga
Neil Hamilton ... Paul
Erville Alderson ... The Professor
Helen Lowell ... The Grandmother
Marcia Harris Marcia Harris ... The Aunt
Frank Puglia ... Theodor
Lupino Lane ... Rudolph
Hans Adalbert Schlettow ... Leader of the Workers
Paul Rehkopf Paul Rehkopf ... Hungry Worker
Robert Scholtz Robert Scholtz ... Hungry Worker
Walter Plimmer Walter Plimmer ... The American (as Walter Plimmer Jr.)
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Storyline

The story follows a Polish professor and his family who have become refugees in the aftermath of World War I. They try to survive in Germany during the period of the Great Inflation. Carol Dempster is Inga, a Polish war orphan who struggles to provide for the family that has taken her in, while accumulating a meager dowry from the rubble of depression-stricken Berlin so that she can marry Paul. Returning to his family, weakened by the battlefront's poisonous gases, Paul invests in his and Inga's future by tending a secret garden which he hopes will provide the resources for them to live, and which serves as a symbol of optimism for the two young lovers. Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Genres:

Drama | Romance

User Reviews

 
A Down To Earth Film
6 December 2008 | by FerdinandVonGalitzienSee all my reviews

There are a lot of essential and distinguished silent film pioneers who contributed greatly to film history with their mastery of cinema art but they do not always appeal to all of the world's silent film fans. It is a question of personal preference that does not deny their important merits, natürlich!!. For example there is a strained relationship between this German count and Herr D. W. Griffith.

But fortunately there is always an exception that proves the rule, a film that plays to the strengths of the director and will even impress a German count who has his own standards.

"Isn't Life Wonderful" is a masterpiece, a film that has the usual Griffith story subjects ( of course there's an orphan) and is impeccably directed.

The film tells the story of a family of Polish refugees in Germany in the hard times of the aftermath of the WWI. It was a struggle to survive and make a living as there was unemployment, hunger, a financial disaster dominated by uncontrollable inflation and terrible social conditions. Herr Griffith depicts these tragedies perfectly. In spite of facing a gloomy future, the couple that stars in the film, Dame Inga ( Dame Carol Dempster in a moving performance ) and Herr Paul ( Neil Hamilton ) try to bear these troublesome times with some optimism, a complicated task in itself given that disease almost kills Herr Paul and one can hardly forget that hunger makes turnips the German national food par excellence. Nevertheless, Inga and Paul face those problems with inner strength and unconditional love.

Herr Griffith handles the story in a realistic way, without moralizing and avoiding the tearful aspects of the story ( an important aspect that this German count appreciates very much ) or demonizing people. After all everyone suffered the social and financial crises in their own way. This is a down to earth film that shows a harsh reality tempered by hope and contains beautiful scenes that broke the heart of a heartless German count. There are outstanding scenes, particularly the one where Inga and Paul are chased through the woods by hungry and unemployed workers, an excellent example of classic Herr Griffith editing.

To make a film about such difficult times and striking the right balance between realism and a larger than life love story that intertwines sadness and hope is a task only a few of the great silent film masters could accomplish and to this German aristocrat, forgetting old rivalries, it must said that Herr D. W. Griffith was one of those.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must avoid the financial crisis of his Teutonic heiresses.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 December 1924 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dawn See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (copy with English titles at Brussels Musée du Cinéma)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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