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  • TBC
  • Drama, Romance
  • 1920
  • 110 mins

Way Down East

Way Down East


Grand pastoral melodrama by the director of The Birth Of A Nation. An influence on both Walt Disney and Eisenstein, it features a spectacular on-ice finale made without any special effects whatsoever


A quintessential Griffith melodrama,with Gish, the silent screen's most luminous heroine, staggering up and down the road to ruin.

A naive country girl is seduced and finds she is pregnant. The infant dies, and she is publicly shamed. In one of the most exciting sequences of the 1920s a farmer (Barthelmess) rescues her from the deadly ice floes of the White River (watch out for that waterfall, Lil!) and they settle down together.

The movie's plot is hoary old stuff from the penny-gaffs and saloon theatres but Griffith transforms it into a tale of elemental grandeur.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Lowell Sherman, Josephine Bernard, Richard Barthelmess, Burr McIntosh, Lillian Gish, Mrs David Landau
  • Director: DW Griffith, United Artists
  • Writer: Anthony Paul Kelly, DW Griffith
  • Producer: DW Griffith
  • Photographer: Billy Bitzer, Henrik Sortov

In a nutshell

There's a strong argument to suggest that of all Griffith's work this one has withstood the test of time most successfully. Spectacular to look at, emotionally engaging and with a conclusion that still sends a shiver down the spine.

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