Saturday, April 12, 2008

11. Orphans Of The Storm - 1921

French people like Joan of Arc
Director: D. W. Griffith

Synopsis: A girl (Louise) is abandoned by her mother, but found by another guy attempting to abandon his daughter (Henriette) at the same church. The guy adopts the other girl and raises the two as sisters. Their parents die and they go to Paris to find a cure for Louise's blindness. Henriette gets kidnapped by the marquis or something. Louise gets taken in by some beggers. A bunch of crap happens including the sisters almost reuniting and the first Bastille Day (oh yeah, movie takes place during the French Revolution). Henriette is taken to court, where she reunites with Lousie, for housing aristocracy. She is sentenced to death but is saved at the last minute. The sisters are reunited. Louise meets her mother. Henriette is in love with Count de Vaurney.

Review: No more Griffith! Yay! I couldn't even watch this in one sitting because I was so freaking bored. I'm not sure how much of that is because I'm sick of really long melodramas, Griffith or because the movie is genuinely boring. Though the movie had some good parts, it was a struggle to get through regardless of what the problem was.

I think there has been a huge amount of refinement with Griffith. Each film has made some form of technical progress, but the last few have been about refining his work. In a sense, this may be his best movie on the list and I might enjoyed it more if I hadn't been sick of him by now. Maybe I will watch this again someday and reevaluate it (this will not happen).

I really enjoyed a few sections of this movie though. Griffith knows how to make things tense which he does really well in the end. He also understood that great sets and huge crowds can put you wherever the director wants you to be.

As an aside, I saw Ben Hur when I was about nine and my mother commented that when the Bible said there were thousands of people to witness something, Ben Hur had the thousands on screen which really impressed me as a kid. Being aware of Griffith, and some other movies that predate Ben Hur, makes me realize that wasn't nearly so impressive.

Overall, this is an okay film but not essential in my opinion unless you want to see the first instance of nudity of film to my knowledge.

Score: 7/10

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