|A somewhat intriguing failure from D.W. Griffith.|
Directed by D.W. Griffith
Produced by D.W. Griffith
Written by Thomas Burke (story); D.W. Griffith
Starring Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess and Donald Crisp
Plot Summary: A religious Chinese immigrant tries to save an abused girl when he moves to London.
Significance: Considered one of D.W. Griffiths’ most notable works, this film, which is fully titled Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl, was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (#323 in 2012 critics' poll and #546 in the directors’ one). Also, it was added to the U.S. National Film Preservation Board’s Film Registry in 1996.
Thoughts: While the film’s tragic story has obviously moved many viewers over several decades, it just didn’t grab me at all. It’s hard to engage with a film that’s a product of its time. Of course, great films can overcome that obstacle. Still, the rushed plotting, wooden acting, and overbearing melodrama make this classic a grind to watch. Though the film is not a terrible one, it’s a poor example of early cinema, which was already being influenced by D.W. Griffith’s earlier work. Blossoms is a small, simple story that feels lifeless and mishandled. In fairness, the film is almost a hundred years old, so it’s no wonder it’s dated. Griffith and company have been better, but I’d still recommend this film mainly for early cinema completists.