films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Way Down East

1920 / 145m - USA
Drama, Romance
Way Down East poster

Griffith likes an epic drama. I'm not the biggest fan of these lengthy silent films, the constant presence of the music tends to get a bit annoying and the balance between footage and intertitles is off, but all things considered, these films are often better than the ones from the 30s and 40s.

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The young Anna Moore is engaged to Sanderson, a wealthy gentleman. After their wedding, when she tells him she is expecting, he confesses to her that the marriage is a sham. Moore is left behind and loses her baby, a serious trauma that leaves her scarred. Later on, Bartlett tells Moore he loves her, but she can't trust the man.

I got a bit annoyed with the slow intertitles and much of the drama is too sentimental for my taste, but the monochrome footage is relatively moody, and some of the more adventurous scenes (like the stormy finale) are a step up from the norm. Could've been better as a 90-minute film, but certainly not the worst.

The Birth of a Nation

1915 / 195m - USA
Drama, War
The Birth of a Nation poster

Monumental film. 180 minutes of epic, historically inaccurate and ultimatly racist cinema. The pacing makes it somewhat bearable, but apart from that it's a misguided, boring and dated affair that tested my nerves with its continuous 3 hour score.

Broken Blossoms

1919 / 89m - USA
Broken Blossoms poster

Also known as The Yellow Man and The Girl, which is a more descriptive title. Except that the "yellow man" is a white man really, who doesn't look the slightest bit Asian. The drama has about the same level of subtlety. It's a more general problem with silents I think, but even then I've seen better examples than this one.

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Lucy is a young girl who lives with her abusive father, a prize boxer who doesn't mind a drink. Cheng Huan is a Buddhist monk who travels the world, hoping to spread the teachings of Buddha. When he arrives in London Huan quickly becomes discouraged, but he finds meaning again when he runs into Lucy, sheltering her from her father.

I found it really hard to get a feel for the characters when simplistic intertitles take ages to explain a basic story that can be derived pretty easily from the extremely expressive acting. It's definitely not the way I love my dramas. It's also pretty disappointing to see Barthelmess' half-arsed attempt at playing an Asian character. Not good.