Orphans of the Storm

(1921)

directed by D.W. Griffith, 150 minutes

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Lillian and Dorothy Gish star as the resourceful Henriette and the blind Louise, who leave their countryside home for Paris in the hopes of having Louise's sight restored. Spied by the lecherous Marquis de Praille (Morgan Wallace), Henriette is abducted and the women are tragically separated in a city on the brink of anarchy. With the help of a kind-hearted nobleman (Joseph Schildkraut), Henriette endeavors to find the helpless Louise, but cruel fate repeatedly thwarts her efforts. Griffith exploits their heart-wrenching dilemma with masterful skill, crowning the drama with politcal intrigue, spectacle and his usual degree of social moralizing (staunchly disclaiming any parallels between the French Revolution and recent waves of "bolshevism"), drawing the multi-layered epic to its white-knuckled climax outside the old city gates of Paris, beneath the gleam of the guillotine's scarlet blade.

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1 member found this review helpful Created about 1 month ago. Updated about 1 month ago.

D.W. Griffith knew how to tell a story, and in "Orphans of the Storm," he demonstrates his narrative technique that made him a legend with "Birth of a Nation" (and in some instances, surpasses that prior work). It's got almost everything you could ask for in a silent melodrama: fiends, fights, costumes, historical reenactments, powdered wigs, guillotines, dramatic rescues, and most of all, the Gish sisters. This is a true epic from the silent era, from the early master of the craft.

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