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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Griffiths Best Film
D W Griffith was one of the greatest directors in the silent era and Way Down East was probably his finest film. The film does not suffer from the flaws which spoil some of his other films such as racual overtones in 'The Birth of a Nation', or a disjointed narrative as does 'Intolerance' and the film therefore should be enjoyable to every silent film fan.
The actual...
Published on 17 Dec 2003

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2.0 out of 5 stars better keep it silent
i love silent movies,i love lilian Gish,i loved this film,Griffith's master piece,i would have given it 5 or even 7 stars BUT.... the irritating soundtrack spoiled the enjoyment,my advice is to watch it with volume OFF.
Published on 31 Aug 2010 by Tarek Sharara


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Griffiths Best Film, 17 Dec 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Way Down East [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
D W Griffith was one of the greatest directors in the silent era and Way Down East was probably his finest film. The film does not suffer from the flaws which spoil some of his other films such as racual overtones in 'The Birth of a Nation', or a disjointed narrative as does 'Intolerance' and the film therefore should be enjoyable to every silent film fan.
The actual plot of the film centers around Lillian Gish (who gives the performance of her career) and her attempts to escape an incident which occurred in her past. There is also a climax on an ice flow, which is probably the finest in motion history. I will not reveal more as it may spoil the film.
The picture quality of the DVD is good through out and has a score written at the time of the films release.
This DVD is really worth buying, the film still has the power to move even after 80 years and is an essential purchase to any silent film fan.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Over-wrought melodrama; rewarded with exhilirating finale, 1 Sep 2014
This review is from: Way Down East [1920] [DVD] (DVD)
D.W. Griffith is without doubt one of the most controversial directors in all of film history. It is, perhaps, due to the flagrantly racist tone of his films (mainly The Birth of a Nation); as well as the "God-fearing" themes in some of his films, that film scholars like to diminish his impact on cinema.

Admittedly his screenplays are steeped in melodrama due to the unyielding virtue of his protagonists. 'Way Down East' can't be excused of these same criticisms. At the same time, there is something in the story of a young woman tricked into a false marriage, before being spurned and tossed aside whilst pregnant, that still resonates with an audience today. Coupled together with Lillian Gish, who must surely be regarded as the one of the first and finest example of screen acting as an art form. Her innocent and pure performance, goes undiminished throughout the film, despite the fate that befalls her; but you always feel the underlying pain and anguish she feels through her guilty secret.

Richard Barthelmess is equally evocative as the admirer of the post traumatic Gish, who is at a loss as to his own rejection from Gish. You can sense the inner turmoil and tension between the two in the second half of the film. This translates superbly even today, with it's subtleties and feeling of unrequited love.

Unfortunately the same subtleties cannot be ascribed to the majority of the supporting cast; who are merely caricatures, whose indulgence only serve to add to the melodrama and aide Griffith's moral diatribe. That said, it is still a story that grips you, and there are more than obvious parallel's to Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbevilles', despite this being adapted from an entirely different stage play.

Like all Griffith work there a more than just a few glimpses of directorial genius. With 'Way Down East' he arguably exhibits the pièce de résistance of his entire career in the ice floe finale. It is to do it a disservice to call it "a feat of early film making", for it stands on it's own in terms of technical achievement and it's provocative images.

Lillian Gish lies afloat a sheet of ice after being overwhelmed by a blizzard; as she lays down the ice begins to break, and the ice-floe begins. Barthelmess sports her limp body flowing downstream and jump across the ice-floe in order to rescue her before an upcoming waterfall. It is 5 spectacular minutes of cinema at both it's most magnificent and it's purest, in this case both leads performed their own stunts and in an actual blizzard and on a real ice-floe. Lillian Gish would suffer from a couple of ailments, that were caused during the filming, for the rest of her life.

Perhaps on paper 'Way Down East' isn't as ground breaking as 'The Birth of a Nation' or 'Intolerance'; but when taking into account the finale, as well as Gish's performance, it may be argued that it is in fact his most innovative film.

I was debating whether to give the film 5 stars, but the DVD itself didn't come with too many extras, which is why I marked it down. That being said I believe the DVD was released in 2001, when little extras were offered. The transfer and restoration is magnificent, considering it's age; and it is accompanied with the 1928 score. It may be that Eureka will release a new DVD version of the film, as they did with 'The Birth of a Nation' a couple of years ago. I was really chuffed as I got my copy for just £4 in a shop (so I could make sure it was a good quality version) and I had been trying to acquire a copy for years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic silent film that includes all sorts of prejudices and was filmed in real harsh conditions., 2 Nov 2014
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Mr. R. Kimberley (Tamworth,UK) - See all my reviews
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Lillian Gish in her most famous performance in silent films. She is briliant in all films but hundreds were lost.You can enjoy this film even more if you read her biography of how films were made live, real storms, two men just to hold the camera still.She practised for weeks lying in cold baths. You cannot see to well on the old film but her eyelashes were covered in ice and she risked her health turnng blue on the ice, while other actors took it easier. Her last film at 93 was "The Whales of August", also the last film for Vincent Price and Bette Davis.
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2.0 out of 5 stars better keep it silent, 31 Aug 2010
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Tarek Sharara (cairo Egypt) - See all my reviews
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i love silent movies,i love lilian Gish,i loved this film,Griffith's master piece,i would have given it 5 or even 7 stars BUT.... the irritating soundtrack spoiled the enjoyment,my advice is to watch it with volume OFF.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Need to allocate a couple of hours towatch this silent film, 4 Oct 2014
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Need to allocate a couple of hours to watch this silent film, but looking forward to it. I've seen clips of the sequence of the girl on the ice flows on the river, which is remarkable. No CGI in those days ~ they did it for real and filmed it!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 9 Nov 2014
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Way Down East [DVD] [2020] [US Import] [NTSC]
Way Down East [DVD] [2020] [US Import] [NTSC] by D.W. Griffith (DVD - 1998)
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