Way Down East is the 1920 silent melodrama directed by D.W. Griffith. Anna is a simple woman who falls in love with a man named Lennox. Unbeknownst to her, he sees her only as the latest of his many girlfriends. They get married, but Lennox abandons Anna when she’s pregnant with his baby. She goes to a home for unwed mothers and has the baby, whom she names trust. The baby dies and Anna has to find a job. She travels all the way to a town where she is hired by the Bartlett’s as a maid. However, Lennox lives in the same town as Anna. Will Anna’s past catch up with her?
When a movie is old fashioned even for the time it was released, the viewer knows that the story may have some real problems. To be fair, Way Down East is not as problematic as Birth of a Nation, but modern viewers may laugh at the movie’s message. The story is pretty good and the ice floe scene is suspenseful. But most people will laugh at the idea that all women want just one mate and are always innocent. It also assumes that if a woman makes one mistake, then she’s defiled forever. Although to his credit, Griffith thinks men should be held to this impossible standard too. Honolulu film fans need to rent this movie first.
More at: Tricia’s Retro Film Reviews
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