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Way Down East Reviews

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Robin Karney
Radio Times

Justly celebrated for the climactic sequence where Gish, drifting unconscious on a raft of ice in a storm, is rescued by Barthelmess, the film offers many less obvious moments that are just as memorable.

Full Review Source: Radio Times | Original Score: 5/5

August 12, 2014


Spectacular to look at, emotionally engaging and with a conclusion that still sends a shiver down the spine.

Full Review Source: Film4

August 19, 2013
Fernando F. Croce

One of Griffith's most rousing visions of film as visual-emotional ebb and flow, connection and rupture

Full Review Source: CinePassion

August 6, 2012
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid

This is melodramatic soap opera at its most blatant and at its very best.

Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid

January 7, 2012
Variety Staff
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With the gathering together of a relatively small cast and less than half a dozen stellar film artists, D.W. has taken a simple, elemental, old-fashioned, bucolic melodrama and milked it for 12 reels of absorbing entertainment.

Full Review Source: Variety

March 26, 2009
Paul Brenner

If you are not moved at the scene of Gish baptizing her dead baby, then you should check the obituaries of your local paper to see if you are listed.

Full Review Source: | Original Score: 5/5

July 25, 2007
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Old-fashioned bucolic soap opera doesn't translate well to modern-times.

Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Original Score: C+

May 27, 2007
Tony Rayns
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Lillian Gish's] virtuoso performance makes the heroine's growth from gullible innocence to bitter experience credible.

Full Review Source: Time Out

January 26, 2006
Michael E. Grost
Classic Film and Television

Classic feminist film

| Original Score: 5/5

August 13, 2005

TV Guide's Movie Guide

The movie is today noted chiefly for its legendary climactic episode: a harrowingly realistic sequence in which the hero hurdles a succession of floating ice blocks to save the heroine from being washed over the falls.

Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Original Score: 3/4

May 24, 2003
Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Through his star, Lillian Gish, Griffith gives the story an emotional power that lifts this 1920 silent feature to the level of a folktale; it becomes something simple, strong, and timeless.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

January 1, 2000
Tim Dirks
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Way Down East (1920) is D. W. Griffith's classic, silent melodramatic film. He bought the film rights to the story, originally a stage play of the same name

Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

January 1, 2000
Mark Adamo
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What's amazing is that so much of Gish's tough, funny, intuitive performance, particularly in the film's middle section as she bears her illegitimate child, transcends time, place and technology.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

January 1, 2000
Michael Dequina

| Original Score: 4/5

January 4, 2007
Emanuel Levy

| Original Score: 4/5

November 12, 2004
Nell Minow
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

| Original Score: 4/5

October 2, 2004
Matt Bailey
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

| Original Score: 5/5

April 4, 2003
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