In the pre-Civil War South, a sadistic plantation-owner brutalizes his slaves to the point of them heaving no other choice but to rebel. Always obedient, peaceful and honest old slave Tom plays a central role in this tragedy.
Géza von Radványi
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The role of "Uncle Tom" was originally given to Charles Gilpin, but when Universal executives saw the first few days' dailies, they objected to Gilpin's "aggressive" performance and demanded that he be replaced. Character actor James B. Lowe auditioned for the part, gave a more "acceptable" reading and was awarded the role. See more »
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, whose gentle rule of the slaves was typical of the South.
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Universal Pictures also released this movie without a soundtrack. See more »
Pretty good for the time, but an appreciation for silent films is always required.
Most silent films have overacting, story qualities we'd currently consider to be politically incorrect, and or slow story. This is one of those movies that defies most silent film clichés. While there are a couple of silent film flaws like the man who's job it is to catch runaway slaves acts like comic relief and you could consider some of the slave dialogue to portray them as being stupid and illiterate, but there is so much in it that makes it feel real. Slaves hardly had any education anyway because their owners didn't care if they could use good English so it felt realistic in a couple of places. This is the first movie or one of the first to cast black people as slaves and they are well cast for the most part especially considering that these actors didn't have resumes to show if they had the goods to act in a feature film. James B. Lowe's performance as Uncle Tom creates a large amount of charisma because it is made clear that he is a nice man who loves anyone who shows him kindness. The comparison scenes showing how white slave owners have fun and how slaves have fun brought a lot of thought into how the slaves were still in a bad situation, but were happy when they had each other. The romance which is a main focus of the movie only comes into play a lot of the time, but soon shifts to another part of the plot making the movie more entertaining and a little more complex.
This movie shows the love and cruelty of humanity extremely well, not even for the time which makes this a must see for any silent movie fan. The movie even adds addition sound effects and voice overs to enrich the experience, a quality that was not often seen because it could only be done when the silent era came to a close. It is also a great way to know the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin if you don't like reading books. It shows how far movies have come since then, but I highly recommend it because of it's impressive story telling.
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