Sunday, April 6, 2014

Broken Blossoms

Amidst the squalor of the poorest district of London, the neglected daughter (Lillian Gish) of a barbaric drunken pugilist (Donald Crisp) receives kindness and sympathy solely from a dejected, opium addicted Chinese shopkeeper (Richard Barthelmess). D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms is a simple, silent melodrama, but surprisingly curt and with unforgettable performances by Gish, Barthelmess, and the terrifyingly odious Crisp. Although the film's depiction of its Asian lead character would be seen as grossly stereotypical by today's standards (not to mention that Barthelmess is an actor of European descent), the film is almost shockingly daring and eons ahead of its time.