In the Border States dir. D.W. GriffithBracket Record:
- Round 1. bt The Indian Land Grab
- Round 2 bt. Max Embarrassed
- Round 3 bt. Thunderbolt
- Round 4 bt. Les Ficelles de Leontine
- Round 5 lost to The Abyss
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoOIdF8JtfI#no
- Round 9 bt. Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor
- Round 10 bt. Princess Tarakanova
- Round 11 bt. The History of a Butterfly: A Romance of Insect Life
- Round 12 bt. The Sanitarium
- Losers' Bracket semi-final bt. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Losers' Bracket pre-final lost to The Unchanging Sea
War. No matter how just the cause, those left behind only have hope and prayer. Unless they're a resourceful young daughter living a carefree existence in the the land being fought over by the two sides, in which case the power of your innocence can prevent some of the worst war crimes.
This was the 14th seed, and so far the initally lowest ranked film to make it this far, triumphing after a lengthy run through the higher reaches of the loser's bracket. To get that far I was mostly going on the still used to signfy the picture on Letterboxd which demonstrated some cinematographic wonder to be found here. There was less than I thought.
This is a simple tale of doing the right thing, earning good karma and being repaid. Where it excels is in the clarity of the story-telling and how well-paced it is. It relates feelings that we can all empathise with. The concern of the family of the solider and the perils of war. It treats both sides of the conflict fairly even-handedly, which given this D.W. Griffith directing a picture about the American Civil War, did surprise me. Overall thought, this is standard 1910 Biograph fare. A Civil War setting and the power of innocence.
Cinematically it's a single, fixed camera making the fourth wall of a simple room set, fixed focus, big depth of field, one-reel of film. There are exterior shots, and there is the scene overlooking a river valley which does look relatively gorgeous with some good angles and nice composition. After 'The Unchanging Sea' it seems to me that D.W. Griffith put effort into having one or two of these more visually-grabbing landscape shots with the much of the rest being mostly gesticulating. Often in rooms. He's not alone in this approach in 1910.
The star of this is Gladys Egan playing the young daughter. Fresh from playing the young Mary Pickford in The Unchanging Sea
, it's her acting that gives this film character and sets it apart from the majority of Griffith's output. While the adults use their actorly training to demonstrative and melodramatic effect, Gladys is a whole lot more raw and a little more naturalistic. She is the calm heart of the picture teaching us the lesson that one good turn earns another. Yes, it's a naive outlook but it's certainly a message that gets pumped into the populous loads, especially in the first half of the 20th Century. This is a charming way to receive your socially approved dose of positivity and clean morals.Notes on the Vanquished:
- The Indian Land Grab is an interestingly cross-cultural Western/Sitting Bull goes to Washington story that seemingly didn't play well at the time. Maybe it's because the Native Americans are the heroes, the white politicans are the bad guys and a white woman has the audacity to fall for the young leader who goes to the seat of US power to put his tribe's case.
- Max Embarrassed is the first Max Linder film in the bracket we've come across. Max was immensely popular at the time, creating comic single-reelers playing himself as the hero getting into all sorts of situations with slapstick for good measure. He was the forerunner to Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd. In this one his romantic approaches to a young woman are strongly rebuffed...
- Thunderbolt is a two/three reel tale of cattle theiving and criminality from Jack Gavin and Australia. Interesting for having an anti-hero as the lead character.
- Les Ficelles de Leontine from Pathé Studios in France is European slapstick/mayhem film in which a young women causes outrageous mischief and chaos for delight of the watching public.
- Tilly the Tomboy Visits the Poor is very much exactly the same film only British. Hopefully there will be a review of this later on in the marathon.
The rest all have reviews coming.