Way Down East Reviews
Sur le forme, malheureusement, √ßa a nettement mal vieilli avec des situations tr√®s clich√©es, des probl√®mes de rythme trop important que c'en est presque indigne de Griffith. L'oeuvre est parfois impossible √† regarder cinq minutes cons√©cutives ou on s'endort. Toutefois, certaines s√©quences reviennent hausser le niveau et d√©montrent aussi une modernit√© de la mise en sc√®ne de la part du cin√©aste. C√īt√© casting, rien √† redire.
I might have liked the film more if I had seen it prior to Broken Blossoms (another, better work by D.W. Griffith), but that film had more going for it. Gish is a much less sympathetic character here, as a naive country woman who foolishly elopes with a man she barely knows. The baby scenes I found very distasteful: melodrama for melodrama's sake. I understood that Griffith was trying to illustrate the pain Gish was going through in the most visceral way possible, but those scenes felt incredibly unsubtle and even corny. A dead child should not be scripted this way, although Gish does her best with the scenes. It all clicks too easily: the baby dies right before the doctor arrives again, her phony husband lives next door the Bartlett's.
The movie has a cold feeling, visualized nicely by the climatic ice-river scenes (probably the best part of the film). I simply don't understand the culture of the times: she is thrown out of home she was staying when her baby died, because they learned she had no husband. Maybe the time frame wasn't made clear, but I had the impression her baby had JUST died, so I was horrified by the callousness of these women giving her the boot. I lost my suspension of disbelief at this situation that was contrived just to get Gish wandering to where she'd find the farmhouse.
I started fast forwarding when I realized that this movie was simply "Broken Blossoms" with a change in scenery: a physical abusive father replaced by a emotionally abusive, fake husband. The Chinese lover replaced by the Country lover, both much more tender than the last man in Gish's life (not to mention played by the same man!). I think the baby was added just to make sure we were aware how bad her life really was, the physical abuse was enough in Broken Blossoms. I can't avoid the comparison, and despite the handful of well-done scenes and the great climax, I can't recommend the film as a whole.
What can I say? I'm a girl, I laughed, I cried, I cheered for the poor battered Anna. If you can sit out the tentative begining of this 2 hour+ film, stick around for the end, as it's pure movie magic.
My favorite bits were the Kate/Professor side story. (Go figure. :P)