Thursday, April 10, 2008

8. Way Down East - 1920

Director: D. W. Griffith

Synopsis: Country bumpkin Anna Moore has the worst year of her life. She's tricked into getting married so she'll sleep with a guy. She's pregnant, but the marriage never really happened. She leaves town and the baby ends up dying. She ends up at a God fearing man's house and she falls in love with his son. They discover her past and she runs away. The son follows her as she falls into an icy river. Anna is saved and everyone gets married.

Review: D. W. Griffith really loves making slow movies. I didn't even see the longest version of this since Netflix sent the 126 minute version and it still felt slow. I don't mind a slow pace, but I think seeing so many slow melodramas in a row is driving me crazy.

It doesn't help that this movie is kind of dull and unrealistic. First of all, Anna's fake husband actually goes so far to sleep with her that he fakes a marriage ceremony with a minister and everything. Anna would reveal the truth but he explains that men are supposed to sow their wild oats. I think some members of society might have sided with Anna had she explained it, but that would have went against the message Griffith was pushing I guess.

So imagine this kind of goofy melodrama but unfolding over two hours. I think emotionally it works pretty well, but it could have been shorter. Add to this a dragging, dirge like soundtrack and it feels so much slower.

Fortunately, the end is exciting. Anna lies on a frozen river that starts breaking up into an ice floe. It's honestly pretty impressive seeing the guy run across the ice (see picture below). This unfortunately comes too late to save it.
Final note: Our ideas of what is not cool has stayed the same for 90 years.
Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton have a son together.Score 7/10

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