Orphans of the Storm (1921)

Orphans of the Storm (1921)My first review of a silent film, and I was excited for the change in viewing, always going from black and white to colour, back and forth, sometimes craving something more recent than being stuck in a monotone world. True Orphans of the Storm (1921) is monotone too, but it was the silent element, something really different for a change.

Directed the much forgotten director D.W. Griffth who made cinema very much what it is today, breaking new ground before the racist Birth of a Nation (1915) became all he was sadly remembered for. Once again working with Lillian Gish one a starlet of her day that made the transition to sound far easier than some. Is paired opposite her sister Dorothy Gish as sisters who become caught up in the French Revolution. You can easily tell who is the focus out of the two sisters, giving the lesser-known sister Louise Girard (Dorothy) who is plagued with blindness, causing the sisters to make a trip to Paris to look for a cure.

Whilst the revolution of the people is being planned, to bring a stop to the extravagance of the aristocracy, and the unfair taxes that burden the poor of the streets. Griffith is very much in favour of the people who are led by a mix of men who have different agendas once the aristocracy are brought to their knees.

As with any film of Griffith it’s epic in scale, but not as long as I thought it would be, moving along a fair pace to not lose interest, filled with character development. Made more intense when the two sisters are split up, spending the rest of the film trying to reunite with each other. Henriette is falling for a sympathetic member of the aristocracy Picard (Creighton Hale) who will do anything for his new love, who wont give into her heart until she is reunited with her sister. Not knowing she is being held captive by Mother Frochard (Lucille La Verne) who works the streets as a beggar woman, making the most of her blind friend to her own advantage.

As the revolution begins the characters start to cross each other into this boiling pot of activity that overflows with judge and jury led by Robespierre (Sidney Herbert) deciding to send the two lovers to their death. Leading to a classic conclusion that is found in the films of the time.


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