Saturday, January 28, 2006

Orphans of the Storm (1921)

It must totally suck being the girl forgotten next to the shining star... course, she DOES look like a man...

Genre: Silent Period Drama

Starring: Lillian Gish (Broken Blossoms; La Boheme), Joseph Schildkraut (The Life Of Emile Zola)

Directed By: D.W. Griffith (Intolerance; The Birth Of A Nation)

Overview: 1887, in the early days of The Terror, when one sister is blinded by plague, the other takes her to Paris to be cured. When an aristocrat sees the allure of the sighted sister, he kidnaps her for himself, leaving the blind girl alone in the streets.

Acting: Lillian Gish, there she is. I expect to see her in all D.W. Griffith movies now, and I must say she does impress. The others were great too in comparison to other silent fare, however I don't think I'll ever get over the melodramatic style chosen by the director.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: D.W. Griffith seems really to pride himself in his historic accuracy. The sets are actually very interesting and dynamic and his use of vignetting, though standard for the era is still nice to look at today. Costumes? Hell Yeah.
Rating: 8

Script: The writing was decent. I won't say poetry like his other Broken Blossoms, but it conveyed the intended message appropriately enough, and simply.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story goes from tragic and sad to terribly pitiful to worse, then hopeful and back to Oh-My-Lord edge of your seat suspense. The story goes on so many turns that you wonder the whole way through if this will be tragic, beautiful or bittersweet. I was very pleased to see this story in this setting, very enjoyable.
Rating: 8

Mood: The costumes of the aristocrats were quite astounding. I found myself leaning in to the screen to get a better look at the French design. I'm not talking about such outfits as seen above, I mean the fops were decadent in dress to the nines and the Jacobins were a sad sorry bunch. One scene has this head of a pike in the background being lugged around by some angry mob member. I can tell you those extra touches did not go unnoticed.
Rating: 8

Any tale of two sisters should indeed involve lots and lots of daily public beheadings... oh look there it is!

Overall Rating: 76% (Made Waves For Sure)

Aftertaste: The only thing I had an issue with was the fact that it didn't suck me in as much as a modern retelling could have, and that's my demographic I guess. If this is ever remade, I'm definitely seeing it, because the potential is outrageous. I mean the French Revolution is cool enough. Adding this crazy tale of two sweet orphans thrust into this land of turmoil? Incredible.