To me Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl is a horror film, and I don't know if I can adequately say how important a film I believe this is in an article such as this. (for a scholarly take on the film read this excellent 1981 piece by Julia Lessage) In our time people love zombies, vampires, aliens, and buckets of blood. Films containing those things are classified as "horror" films, but they are really just roller coaster amusement rides in false fear. Broken Blossoms with its utter brutality, a brutality that exists for far too many children in this world, is real horror. That the film with all of its unvarnished issues was even made in 1919 seems unusual and may be the reason the film still has such impact some ninety-three years later. That and the sad reality that much of what is portrayed in the film has not substantially changed. I often wonder what people from the more "sheltered" parts of the United States thought when they saw this film way back then.
Lucy, finding joy at first and at last
Watch this D W Griffith masterpiece, even when what you see makes you want to look away, because the film is so utterly visually stunning. Some of the scenes were hand tinted to enhance the mood Griffith wanted to viewer to experience (some of these effects were even created by the burning of gauze on the camera lenses) I could obviously go on at great length about this film but this blog is just a tease to give you the motivation to watch a silent film, perhaps for the first time.
Finally a genuine thank you to TCM for showing Broken Blossoms, the first silent film I ever saw and the one which caused my silent "love affair". Don't expect to see it and file it in the back of your mind though. Its images and the tale it tells will be with you for days.
Little Lucy, lost in unfathomable thought