This is the last post for Rural America In Film Month. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along! For the “finale” I wanted to reshare my piece on my personal favorite silent film–one of the Griffith films that Lillian Gish would describe as “rural poems.” You will rarely see a sweeter portrait of a bygone time.
There is a collective dream of the era we like to describe as Victorian. It is composed of brownish lace, top hats, dusty wrought iron and soft-edged photos of remote, elegant people. It’s that feeling we have when we come across something surprisingly delicate and worn in an antique shop. It’s the way the term “Victorian” itself suggests good posture, engravings, and heavy drapery.
Within that collective dream, occasionally there would come a gem like True Heart Susie (1919). This is a film not only made from dreams, and not only nostalgic memories of the “olden days”, but polished snippets of a time that was still alive and well. The year it was made World War I had just ended, the Model T was still the butt of countless jokes, and only 2% of American farms had electricity.
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Definitely a movie I need to revisit. I liked it second-best of Griffith’s rural dramas (Way Down East is still number one for me, mainly because Barthelmess is so, so, so cute and I love the ice flow scene), though The Greatest Question does have an appealing weirdness factor with its spiritualist themes.
I like all his rural dramas, WAY DOWN EAST is one silent in particular that I can watch over and over again. Heartily concur with Barthelmess in WAY DOWN EAST…! 🙂
I simply love this movie. Susie is so adorable, loyal and sincere. I am moved when she sells her cow to help her beloved, and saddened that he marries the first painted face that makes endearments to her.
The first time I watched it, I was “into it” right away–really felt all those emotional up and downs! It’s both a charming film and a good drama, IMHO.