Orphans of the Storm (1921)




Orphans of the Storm Videos

Orphans of the Storm Photos

Movie Info

In this film, Henriette brings her blind sister Louise to Paris, in search of a surgeon who might be able to restore her sister's sight. Henriette is kidnapped by a lascivious nobleman, leaving Louise to wander helplessly about until she too is "stolen" by a family of beggars.
Rating: NR
Genre: Drama
Directed By: D.W. Griffith
Written By: D.W. Griffith
In Theaters: wide
United Artists

Watch it now


Lillian Gish
as Henriette Girard
Dorothy Gish
as Louise Girard
Joseph Schildkraut
as Chevalier de Vaudrey
Monte Blue
as Danton
Frank Losee
as Count de Linieres
Katherine Emmett
as Countess de Linieres
Catherine Emmett
as Countess de Linieres
Morgan Wallace
as Marquis de Praille
Lucille La Verne
as Mother Frochard
Sheldon Lewis
as Jacques Frochard
Frank Puglia
as Pierre Frochard
Leslie King
as Jacques-Forget-Not
Sidney Herbert
as Robespierre
Lee Kohlmar
as King Louis XVI
Marcia Harris
as Henriette's Landlady
Kate Bruce
as Sister Genevieve
Flora Finch
as A Starving Peasant
Louis Wolheim
as The Executioner
Kenny Delmar
as The Chevalier (as a boy)
Herbert Sutch
as A Meat-Carver at the Fete
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Orphans of the Storm

Critic Reviews for Orphans of the Storm

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

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.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

Orphans of the Storm is a stirring, gripping picture.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
Radio Times

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

Full Review… | August 19, 2013
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for Orphans of the Storm


I admit that I had a hard time getting into this film, and it took me a week to watch it. I'm not sure if it was the film, or just the fact that I was just tired every time I turned it on. However, after watching it, it stuck with me - and I continue to think about it. The images, mood, story, etc. haunted me . . . so, apparently, I liked it. I think I even liked it a lot. This film is similar in scope to "Tale of Two Cities". When I first read it in high school, I found it boring - but it grew into a seminal piece of literature in my life that informs my primary perception of the French revolution. This film has now added to that arena.

J. Scott Fugate
J. Scott Fugate

Really? Bolshevism? Okay, I get that D. W. Griffith was a man of his time. He was afraid that something like the French Revolution would come to the US. Or, really, like the Russian Revolution. And Griffith had started out moderately well off, before his father died and left the family in poverty. He knew the whole of the economic spectrum in his era, and he was much happier at the top. However, I think he's working so hard in this to warn against the potential dangers of the Russian Revolution that he doesn't seem to have noticed the historical failings in his presentation of the French one. The most notable problem, of course, is with the title cards that preach piously about the dangers of anarchy and Bolshevism. I mean, anarchy is a fair complaint; despite the theoretical government, it is safe to say that the system was anarchic. So okay. But Bolshevism? I mean, leave aside that it kind of isn't even a real thing. It certainly didn't exist in Revolutionary France! Henriette and Louise Girard (Lillian and Dorothy Gish) are adopted sisters. Both were to have been abandoned as babies at Notre-Dame, but the man planning to abandon Henriette sees Louise already there and takes pity on her, bringing both babies home again. They grow up as devoted sisters; they lose their parents in the fever that takes Louise's eyesight. Henriette swears she will marry no man of whom Louise does not approve. She falls in love with the handsome young Chevalier de Vaudrey (Joseph Schildkraut). The girls are separated. Henriette is sent to a prison for "fallen women." This leaves the blind Louise to wander the streets as a beggar. The French Revolution begins; Louise, still among the disreputable people for whom she had begged, is safe, but Henriette once aided Danton (Monte Blue) and so is despised by Robespierre (Sidney Herbert). And, of course, she is in love with an aristo, and that seldom ended well. Because Danton left little in the way of his own writing, it's really hard to say if the film's portrayal of him as a compassionate man interested in ending the excesses of the Tribunal is fair and accurate. Similarly, Robespierre was a much more complicated--and younger!--figure than the sinister old man portrayed here. Griffith was never enormously interested in subtleties, and if you needed a historical hero and villain in Revolutionary France, you worked with what you had. Heaven knows there was enough villainy in the Terror to go around, and it's certainly true that Robespierre did not believe in mercy, which he seems to have believed would weaken the state. I can't much see Danton pleading for an aristocrat's life just because a woman who had saved [i]his[/i] life once happened to be in love with said aristo. Still, we've got to have our happy ending somehow, and while Griffith used [i]A Tale of Two Cities[/i] as a source, he didn't use [i]The Scarlet Pimpernel[/i]. I found much of the plot to this bewildering, and I'm still not entirely sure why Louise is abandoned at the beginning. I [i]think[/i] her mother had an unwise affair with a commoner and got pregnant, or possibly an unwise first marriage with a commoner, but I'm not sure. I get that the Chevalier's family considers a relationship with Henriette to be unwise, but I don't get why they locked her up instead of just sending him off somewhere or making him join the military or something. The whole sequence of events leading up to her arrest was more than a little confusing. Possibly if I had been paying a little more attention, it would have been less confusing, but the main reason I wasn't paying attention was that I was having a hard time keeping track of what was going on. I didn't like most of the characters, or else I didn't care enough about them to like or dislike them. The girls were your standard Griffith heroines--either frail and in need of protection or else plucky and determined. Griffith certainly had a lot of nerve preaching about how we needed to respect the basic equality of all men. I've watched a couple of the movies thought of as apologies for [i]Birth of a Nation[/i]--as well as [i]Birth of a Nation[/i] itself--and he still never quite got it. Oh, of course there are no minorities in this movie; it's Revolutionary France, for heaven's sake. The most you could have is the odd African slave. They'd be extremely out of place in this story, too. However, even when Griffith thought he was being respectful of people who weren't exactly like him, he was still extremely patronizing. It isn't just that they're all either evil or saintly; that's true of almost everyone in Griffith films. As I said, he wasn't best known for subtlety. It's that they aren't ever really people, and no matter how hardworking they are, the white men are still needed to save the day. Even here, the women can't rescue themselves, and they only needed to be rescued in the first place because of the men around them.

Edith Nelson
Edith Nelson

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.

Aj V
Aj V

Discussion Forum

Discuss Orphans of the Storm on our Movie forum!

News & Features