Broken Blossoms

D.W. GriffithUSA89 minutes1919ColourB&WEnglish

View Broken Blossoms during the Broken Blossoms event.

Viewed by many as silent pioneer D.W. Griffith's response to the charges of racism that had been levelled at his (undeniably racist) Civil War epic The Birth of a Nation, Broken Blossoms is a problematic (to say the least) but ineffably moving tale of intercultural romance, thanks primarily to the wondrous playing of the great Lillian Gish (who is also on view this season opposite Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter). Richard Barthelmess plays a gentle young Chinese scholar who journeys to the West to spread the pacifist teachings of Buddhism, but encounters a world of cruelty, hardship and misery. In a London slum, he rescues a teenage street urchin (Gish) from her abusive father (Donald Crisp), and the two outcasts develop a powerful love for each other as he nurses her back to health. "One of D.W. Griffith's most beautiful films" (Don Druker, Chicago Reader).

Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from The Lillian Gish Fund for Film Preservation.