Film Greats: D.W. Griffith’s ‘Broken Blossoms’ (1919)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Nov 15, 2001.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    While D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, The Birth Of A Nation may be called racist by some, his 1919 film, Broken Blossoms would become a poetic justice of sorts. It is a small film compared to The Birth Of A Nation and Intolerance, but nonetheless, grand in scope because of the subject matters it covers and ambitious for its examination of social morality, even though sentiments are at obviously high levels.
    A bold and socially conscious melodrama, Broken Blossoms is one of the first few films to deal with the themes of interracial love, child abuse, feminism, drug use, pacifism, religion and racial bigotry. It is all the more enhanced by the memorable performance of Lillian Gish and Griffith’s use of soft focus photography.
    Viewed within its own context, the film works, among other things, as a tragedy. Here, the images tell the story. They are low-key but, at times, make for some powerful statements. G.W. (Billy) Bitzer’s cinematography is well conceived. With all these elements in addition to its rich characterizations, Broken Blossoms remains one of the jewels of the silent film era.
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    Film Greats – A continuing quick look at motion pictures that, in one way or another, have been called “great films” by some. Other Films In This Series: Alain Resnais’ http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/007797.html http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/006466.html
    [Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on November 15, 2001 at 12:07 AM]
     
  2. Dave L

    Dave L Stunt Coordinator

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    This film is a gem. Quite delicate with excellent naturalistic performances by Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess. You're doing a great favor by bringing these little seen films to the attention of HTFers. It's especially difficult to get people to see silent films since many hold such prejudices about them such as histrionic acting, sped up action, scratched and torn film stock. Hope some will see your thread and take a chance on this one.
     
  3. Jarod M

    Jarod M Stunt Coordinator

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    Broken Blossoms is the one Griffith film for which I have true affection. A markedly different film for Griffith--I seem to recall Richard Schickel (Griffith biographer) calling it "the first art film." Lillian Gish is mesmerizing, as is Bitzer's cinematography.
    [Edited last by Jarod M on November 15, 2001 at 10:02 AM]
     
  4. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    I agree this is a wonderful film. Donald Crisp's turn as Lillian's father is truly scary.
    For anyone who enjoyed this one, I suggest also checking out Way Down East (1920), another collaboration between Griffith/Gish/Barthelmess and another truly great film.
    Rob
    ------------------
    "That suits me down to the ground."
     
  5. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    I concur with everyone here, a wonderful and touching film. For those that enjoyed this, I would recommend F.W. Murnau's The Last Laugh
     
  6. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    "Broken Blossoms" is one of the great classics of the silent era. So far everyone who has replied agrees, but isb't it a shame that millions of people have have never seen it, or even worse have never seen any silent film. They don't know what they're missing. Why should I expect anything different? I know a number of people who won't even watch any film in b/w.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  8. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Dave, thanks for your comments.
    Others, thanks for the other film recommendations. I will try and catch some of those that I haven't seen.
     

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