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Orphans of the Storm

Orphans of the Storm (1921)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 415

My Rating

Movie Info

Having turned the creaky old stage melodrama Way Down East into a money-spinning film, director D.W. Griffith set about to perform the same magic with the barnstorming theatrical piece The Two Orphans. Adolphe Philippe Dennery's play told the story of two orphaned girls, one blind, who are separated early on and undergo innumerable deprivations before their tearful reunion. Though the play took place in France, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the French Revolution; this didn't stop Griffith



Jan 8, 1999

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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

Dorothy Gish is the blind girl, and this step from comedienne roles into a role of unlimited emotional possibilities reveals new capabilities in the less famous of the two Gish girls.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Orphans of the Storm is a stirring, gripping picture.

March 25, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While the director's handling of humour (clumsy) and pathos (heavily milked) demands some generosity from the audience, the eternal radiance of Lillian Gish shines through everything.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the best of the director's late silent epics.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Heavily sentimental and marred by Griffith's taste for unsubtle and inappropriate comedy, this isn't quite a silent masterpiece, but it is, nonetheless, visually spectacular and largely absorbing.

August 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

An overstuffed but ultimately stirring saga of two sisters separated and reunited during the French Revolution.

August 19, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

[T]he sheer amount of realized ambition on display in it makes it a sight to behold.

August 5, 2003 Full Review Source:

Enjoyable silent drama built around touching performances by the Gish sisters, some spectacular action sequences, and Griffith's own love of a rattling good yarn.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

D.W. Griffith, always the showman, set out to make an epic from a story about sisters in trouble.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Orphans of the Storm

A fantastic, yet much too long, melodrama from the famous silent director D.W. Griffith. Forget about Birth of a Nation, this is the film to see. It stars the fabulous Gish sisters and they just melt your heart. The story is brilliant, the movie doesn't even look very old, it has heart and drama. I recommend it.
April 17, 2012

Super Reviewer

A beautiful melodrama following two sisters on a journey of loss and recovery during the French Revolution. Historically impeccable and based on the novel by Adolphe d'Ennery & Eugène Cormon, Orphans of the storm could easily be made today to great success but finding a pair of sisters as wonderful as Lillian Gish & Dorothy Gish would be a much harder task. The set is amazing, it's hard to believe it was all filmed on a New York set. My favourite scene was when the peasant woman gets run over and killed by a carriage and the aristocrat that gets out pays her husband a penny and apologises for the inconvenience. It reminds me of Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin in many ways although I should point out that Battleship Potemkin came out three years later but this must have been an influence. I watched the Alpha video version on DVD and while the visual quality is good, the music they have put to it is awful, although their soundtrack to Way Down East is much worse.
February 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

Story takes place in France before and after the Revolution. Louise (Dorothy Gish) and Henriette (Lillian Gish) are brought up together but are not really sisters--Louise was left on church steps as a baby and Henriette's parents took her in. Both are orphaned when their parents die and Louise is struck blind. Henriette takes her to Paris in hope of finding a cure. There they are separated--Louise is forced to work with villainous beggars and Henriette falls in love with Chevalier de Vaudrey (drop dead handsome Joseph Schildkraut).

The story is wildly implausible with some twists that had me smirking. It's also overlong and VERY melodramatic...but it still works. It was made on a large scale with beautiful settings, costumes and a cast of hundreds. D.W. Griffith did a wonderful job of directing--especially when the peasants revolt and overthrow the government. I usually hate historical movies but I loved this one! The cast overacts wildly (especially Monte Blue as Danton) except for Schildkraut who underplays--and it works. Throroughly engrossing and highly recommended
February 10, 2011

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Zwei Waisen im Sturm (DE)
  • Orphans of the Storm (1921) (UK)
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