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Broken Blossoms is an American silent film from director D. W. Griffith. This melodrama tells the love story of an abused English woman and a Chinese Buddhist in a time when London was a brutal and harsh place to live.
Decades Project: 1/1 of the 10's
Wow. Ouch. Wowch.
One of the chief problems with silent films for me is their ability to connect on an emotional level, and boy does Broken Blossoms ever connect. Its story about an innocent young girl and a lonely Chinese immigrant oppressed and forgotten by the world around them is something which hits more than a few resonant notes with anyone who's ever felt like an outsider. Neither character has a place in society, but when they meet a space is magically opened up where they not only coexist as a pair but where they can finally exist as individuals.
You might expect a film adaptation of a story called The Chink and the Child made by Birth of a Nation director D.W. Griffith to be, well, not exactly racially sensitive. And, true, the character of Cheng Huan is played by westerner Richard Barthelmess, who squints his eyes to achieve an oriental look. But, if anything, Broken Blossoms is about tolerance, and in particular racial tolerance, it being the story of two ethnically different star-crossed lovers, whose flowering affections are cruelly thwarted by a racist brute.
Lillian Gish is phenomenal. Her character, Lucy, may never be anything more than a victim in the story, but Gish, with her tremulous, haunted fragility, is magnetic. There is one particular scene where Lucy…
Except for the creepy pedophilic overtones and casual racism, this is a straightforward melodrama. It's neither great nor terrible.
Poor, sad little girl. I am not sure I have ever seen terror portrayed so convincingly as the closet scene. And the way she acts with her eyes and uses her fingers to force a smile - brilliant.
I think this Lillian Gish might have a future in the flickers.
The loneliest movie there ever was.
As much a reaction to BIRTH as INTOLERANCE, with a racially flipped climax that suggests the average white woman has more to fear from a drunken, single-minded relative than a minority. Smaller in scale than Griffith's other features to that point, but no less intricate in its technical and emotional mastery. Maybe even my favorite of his features so far.
Apparently all a white guy needs to do in order to play an Asian is squint his eyes a bit and slouch over like Gollum.
Okay, but in all seriousness, this movie does pack a bit of an emotional punch. I'm not too familiar with D.W. Griffith's work beyond 'Birth of a Nation' (which I disliked, to say the least). I respect his ingenuity as a filmmaker, but I guess the material in his movies is a bit off-putting to me. However, in spite of Griffith's heavy use of racial caricatures, I was really Still at how nuanced and even impartial this movie was when it comes to the topic of interracial romance. It's almost like Griffith is saying, "Hey,…
Film #26 of Smiler Grogan's Scavenger Hunt
Task 18/30: A silent drama
"What makes you so good to me, Chinky?"
D.W. Griffith at his least racist... is still pretty racist. (Mainly in the title cards in this one).
BUT... overall, this movie is a pretty tender melodrama of a love story. There's a lot of abuse going on when a ill-tempered English boxing lout beats up on his daughter and goes haywire when he learns about her courtship with a "Chink" (ugh, that word).
Lillian Gish is pretty crazy in this. Her using her fingers to force herself to smile is just weird. But funny. Not sure it was supposed to be funny, but it was to me.…
honestly? one of the few silent movies that has kept my attention..... and this was a movie featuring yellowface............. and racism..... by ku klux klan-guy d.w. griffith.... im confused
Heartbreaking and far ahead of its time, D.W. Griffith's "Broken Blossoms" is a landmark drama that stands the test of time and remains relevant to this day.
TSPDT Cinema 1000: Film #3
Currently suffering from review fatigue, so fuck it, I've written my impressions as fictional prose instead.
Reeking mist rose up from the dirty waters of the Thames; seeping through the twisting narrow London streets, pervading them with its filth. The mist shrouds the people; stealing identity, blanketing pain. A young woman makes her way through the cobbles; back hunched, head bowed, she still feels the pain from the beating she received last night. A beating from a boxer, strong in body but weak in mind. Alcohol is his crutch. Inflicting pain his relief. His adoptive daughter his victim.
Another man watches her. Kind, gentle,…
#43 of 100 in my Top 100 Directors Challenge
Director D.W. Griffith based this tragic tale upon Thomas Burke's "The Chink and the Child" from his 1917 anthology entitled Limehouse Nights. The DVD version I watched from Kino on Video featured the complete text of Burke's story, so I read that -- an absolutely brilliant bit of fiction -- before watching the silent film with a very good idea of how the drama would play out.
Quite unlike the original story, the film opens in a Chinese treaty port, full of "sky-larking" sailors, fortunetellers and pretty girls. It is here in a Buddhist temple that we encounter The Yellow Man (Richard Barthelmess), a missionary who is about to embark for…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Broken Blossoms is a film of relentless sadness and great beauty, and it is a film that demands historical context.
Elephant(s) in the room out of the way first: this is a film that has not aged well. Like, at all. One slur in particular that is now among the most heinous of slurs is thrown around like it's nothing, and not necessarily in exclusively negative contexts. For God's sake, the short story that this film is based off of (from Thomas Burke's anthology Limehouse Nights) is entitled "The Ch*nk and the Child." To seemingly add insult to injury, Richard Barthelmess, a noticeably white actor, plays the lead role of the Chinese man, Cheng Huan. This is, of course, a…
Surprised how dark this movie was. High hopes followed by opium addiction, physical abuse, and death.
Not what I had expected and was glad for it
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