All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl
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…
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.
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.
As is the case with most films predating 1920, 'Broken Blossoms' must be viewed as a historical artifact and forgiven for some of its now unacceptable faults. Had this film been released today, nearly 100 years on, it would be an undoubted one-star piece of crap, but such was the style and simplicity of early filmmaking, it's impossible not to let this film off the hook to some degree.
The most unavoidable yet most forgivable problem with 'Broken Blossoms' is the acting. Produced at a time when screen actors and theatre actors were essentially one and the same, it is clear that nobody had yet realised that the melodramatic style required for the theatre - where the audience may find…
Lilian Gish is a knockout with a killer Smile.The film brims with a great background score and foggy atmospherics.Only wish they had chosen an Asian to play the lead role.
The poster art and the synopsis of this film suggest that this will be a love story or some sort of romantic drama. Whatever gave people that suggestion I'm not quite sure as the film itself is more interested in the suffering of Lucy under the will of her father than the amorous interests of the emigre (which is wholly one sided). In fact the main and most impactful relationship is of the abusive one between Lucy and her father. They are given the most screen time together, while the emigre comes off as a lurching, hunching, creep that won't at times force himself on Lucy only through his holy vows. The film is at times captivating through some striking…
Lovely film made slightly less so by title card over indulgence. Chill, bro.
I love how slice-of-life and lighthearted D.W. Griffiths is.
It's so dissonant that the story itself is anti-racist (the villain is racist, the two most likeable characters are in an interracial relationship, complicated foreign main character, the commentary that Americans try to push their religion and values on foreign countries) but the production of the movie telling it is racist (main character played by a white dude in yellow face squinty eyes, but that's just how Hollywood did things back then). In any case, the acting in this is phenomenal and the story is heart breaking. The world they're has been so cold to them and they're both such pure and sweet characters. I thought the scene where "the yellow man" found her gone and threw an elaborate tantrum…
"Don't do it, Daddy! You'll hit me once too often, and then they'll hang yer."
D. W. Griffith follows up his grand Intolerance with a film of much smaller scope. It proves definitively that Griffith was not only the man who invented the grammar of modern cinema, but also its first master. He reveals a mastery of mise-en-scene, as the props and scenery serve to develop the tone of the piece. In the film's most notorious scene, Griffith uses the claustrophobic space of a closet allows Lillian Gish to deliver a heartrending, unforgettable performance. As always, he uses his characteristic parallel action scenes to accentuate the themes at play. While showing Lucy's wholesome relationship with The Yellow Man, he chooses to inter-cut scenes of Lucy's abusive father in the midst of a boxing match. The courtship of the two young lovers is all the more winning due to this contrast.
It was hard to sit through this racist film as an Asian person even though I knew it was a product of the time. I cannot appreciate the film and its cinematic innovation when the content itself is so offensive.
Hot take: M. Night Shyamalan could learn a thing or two from D.W. Griffith.
In other news, a top-5 performance of Gish's career by my estimation.
Griffith offers a simple masterpiece that is the loving opposite of "Birth of a Nation," and it is almost as compelling.
erstaunlich unterhaltsam inszenierte simple Geschichte, die im 2ten Teil richtig an Spannung aufnimmt und mit einem super Ende aufwartet, eine der schönsten Liebeszenen die ich kenne, wenn der Gelbe Mann das einfallende Mondlicht in seinen hohlen Händen auffängt und sie damit übergießt, auffällig gut formulierte Zwischentitel wie immer bei Griffiths, romantische Bilder, insgesamt ein wahrlich schöner Film