From The Vault

D.W Griffith Retrospective

The Unquiet American It’s the American Civil War. A father joins up with the Union Army, and soon after, as Confederate troops raid his property, a rebel soldier falls in love with the Unionist’s daughter.


She’s grown up now. She runs away, puts on her dead brother’s uniform, fights for the Union and dies herself. Cut. An old carpenter receives news his wife is deathly ill. The carpenter loses his job. His wife’s health worsens.


A lonely adolescent girl lives with her father. She’s not allowed to wear makeup. She meets a thief at an ice cream social. He’s not interested in her; he just wants to rob her father.


Mrs. Harding dies, having written a strange letter to her pastor. In the letter, she relates how her husband abused her. She asks the pastor to take care of her daughter. The pastor buys the girl a fashionable hat from New York, triggering rumors of a love affair.


Those are a few of the plots of D.W. Griffith, from movies showing at Ponrepo during their mid-May Griffith-fest. Call it The Birth of the Filmmaker. Favorite son of LaGrange, Kentucky, D.W. (David Wark) Griffith was an actor, writer, composer and a racist, raging egomaniac. He was also a director of incredible talents, best known for his The Birth of a Nation (1915). Whether billed as D.W., Lawrence Griffith, Granville Hicks or Warwick, Capt. Victor Marier, Irene or Roy Sinclair or Gaston de Tolignac, Griffth was deeply involved in all aspects of movie-making. The creator (along with his personal cinematographer G.W. Bitzer) of the flashback, and codifier of the iris shot and cross-cutting techniques, Griffth never again attained the artistic and material success of his early triumph. Ponrepo is featuring nearly twenty of his early-early works (some are silent), in their series. In Griffith we find the real Americana, the particularly Midwestern brand of despair that makes David Lynch possible. And you thought Europe invented angst... n

At Ponrepo, Monday, May 19, Thursday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 28

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