The callous rich, portrayed by Lennox, think only of their own pleasure. Anna is but a poor country girl whom Lennox tricks into a fake wedding. She believes that it is true, but secret, while he has his way with her. When she is pregnant, he leaves her and she must have the baby, named Trust Lennox, on her own. When the baby dies she wanders until she gets a job with Squire Bartlett. David falls for her, but she rejects him due to her past and then Lennox shows up lusting for Kate. Seeing Anna, he tries to get her to leave, but she doesn’t, and she tells no one about his past. When Squire Bartlett learns of her past from Martha, the town gossip, he tosses Anna out in a snow storm. But before she goes, she fingers the respected Lennox, as the father of her dead baby and the spoiler of herself. –IMDb
Griffith was born in rural Kentucky to Jacob “Roaring Jake” Griffith, a Confederate Army colonel and Civil War hero. He grew up with his father’s romantic war stories and melodramatic nineteenth century literature that were to eventually mold his black-and-white view of human existence and history. In 1897, Griffith set out to pursue a career both acting and writing for the theater but for the most part was unsuccessful. Reluctantly, he agreed to act in the new motion picture medium for Edwin S. Porter at the Edison Company. Griffith was eventually offered a job at the financially struggling American Mutoscope & Biograph [us] where he directed over 450 short films, experimenting with the story-telling techniques he would later perfect in his epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Griffith and his personal cinematographer G.W. Bitzer collaborated to create and perfect such cinematic devices as the flashback, the iris shot, the mask, and crosscutting. In the years following Birth… read more
An affecting melodrama thanks to a great performance by Lilian Gish and masterful direction by Griffith, especially his handling of the film's final act involving a chase down an icy river that is still thrilling today. My only gripe is the ocassional focus on subplot involving a professor vying for the affections of a girl, which detracts from the main story, being both unfunny and undeveloped, making the conclusion (a triple wedding) less believable than it already was.
Lillian Gish had one of the most expressive faces in the history of the film and her performance here is a master class in silent screen acting. Griffith's ultimate melodrama is a moving, exciting and awe inspiring classic of silent cinema. The ice flow sequence even by today's standards fills one with awe at its execution. The film however rests on Gish and it is her who elevates it to its revered status.