Broken Blossoms (1919) - Rotten Tomatoes

Broken Blossoms (1919)



Critic Consensus: Thought-provoking and beautifully filmed, D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms presents a master at the top of his form.

Broken Blossoms Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Based on "The Chink and the Child", a story by Thomas Burke, Broken Blossoms is one of D.W. Griffith's most poetic films. Richard Barthelmess plays a young Chinese aristocrat who hopes to spread the gospel of his Eastern religion to the grimy corners of London's Limehouse district. Rapidly disillusioned, Barthelmess opens a curio shop and takes to smoking opium. One evening, Lillian Gish, the waif-like daughter of drunken prizefighter Donald Crisp, collapses on Barthelmess' doorstep after enduring one more of her father's brutal beatings. Barthelmess shelters the girl, providing her with the love and kindness that she has never known. Crisp, offended that his daughter is living with a "heathen," forces the girl to return home with him. In a terrible drunken rage, Crisp beats Lillian to death. Barthelmess arrives on the scene, kills Crisp, then kneels beside Lillian's body and takes his own life.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: D.W. Griffith, Thomas Burke
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 11, 1999
Kino on Video


Richard Barthelmess
as The Yellow Man
Lillian Gish
as Lucy - The Girl
Donald Crisp
as Battling Burrows
Edward Piel
as Evil Eye
Arthur Howard
as His Manager
André de Beranger
as The Spying One
George Nicholls
as London Policeman
Moon Kwan
as Buddhist Monk
Kid McCoy
as A Prizefighter
George Nichols
as London Policeman
Wilbur Higby
as London Policeman
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Broken Blossoms

Critic Reviews for Broken Blossoms

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5)

Although the picture consumes only 90 minutes, it somehow seems draggy, for the reason that everything other than the scenes with the three principals seems extraneous and tends to clog the progression of the tale.

Full Review… | March 5, 2009
Top Critic

Very much on the credit side, though, are stretches of pure Griffith poetry, marvellous use of light and shadow in cameraman Billy Bitzer's evocation of foggy Limehouse, and a truly unforgettable performance from Gish.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

There is so much that is unusually excellent and excellently unusual in Broken Blossoms that one is compelled by enthusiasm to write about it.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

One of D.W. Griffith's most beautiful films.

Full Review… | May 14, 2005
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Films like this, naive as they seem today, helped nudge a xenophobic nation toward racial tolerance.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

May be [Griffith's] simplest, most affecting work.

Full Review… | September 21, 2014
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Broken Blossoms

New-age films definitely get some of their retrospective ideas from films such as Broken Blossoms. With no dialogue present it has to be a powerful story in order to have such an impact of sheer enjoyment and emotions, and this film goes above and beyond all expectations. As an asian man comes to London from his hometown for personal reasons, but when he get's caught up in an ugly, father/daughter conflict, he takes in little 12 year-old Lucy to nurture her after the beatings of her raged "Boxing Champion" father. The only feelings he sees is romantic and he tries to come-on to Lucy even though she would have no idea what he is trying to do. This film is beautifully told, easily understandable, it has an amazing orchestra following it, and the conclusion will make your gut spin. Broken Blossoms has true meaning and it is a film that I will remember forever. D.W. Griffith has made a masterpiece and it may just be one of my favourite films of all time!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

The attitudes of the film are of course wildly dated but taking that into account, something you really have to do to look at the film objectively, the story is sensitively told and the acting by the leads is touching. Also the use of different colors for different locations was a striking choice to set the mood of the piece.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


the story of a chinese man who falls in love with a girl of the london slums played by lillian gish. the chinese character is played by a white man and somewhat emasculated but overall it's a pretty sympathetic portrayal of interracial romance for 1919. some beautiful camerawork here if u can get past the inherent racist attitudes

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Broken Blossoms Quotes

London Policeman: We may believe there are no Battling Burrows, striking the helpless with brutal whip - but do we not ourselves use the whip of unkind words and deeds? So, perhaps, Battling may even carry the message of warning.
– Submitted by David L (2 years ago)

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