×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Broken Blossoms
     

Broken Blossoms

5.0 3
Director: D.W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp

Cast: D.W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp

 

See All Formats & Editions

Based on "The Chink and the Child," a story by Thomas Burke, Broken Blossoms is one of D.W. Griffith's most poetic films. Richard Barthelmess plays a young Chinese aristocrat who hopes to spread the gospel of his Eastern religion to the grimy corners of London's Limehouse district. Rapidly disillusioned, Barthelmess opens a curio shop and takes to

Overview

Based on "The Chink and the Child," a story by Thomas Burke, Broken Blossoms is one of D.W. Griffith's most poetic films. Richard Barthelmess plays a young Chinese aristocrat who hopes to spread the gospel of his Eastern religion to the grimy corners of London's Limehouse district. Rapidly disillusioned, Barthelmess opens a curio shop and takes to smoking opium. One evening, Lillian Gish, the waif-like daughter of drunken prizefighter Donald Crisp, collapses on Barthelmess' doorstep after enduring one more of her father's brutal beatings. Barthelmess shelters the girl, providing her with the love and kindness that she has never known. Crisp, offended that his daughter is living with a "heathen," forces the girl to return home with him. In a terrible drunken rage, Crisp beats Lillian to death. Barthelmess arrives on the scene, kills Crisp, then kneels beside Lillian's body and takes his own life.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
One of the world's first art films and director D. W. Griffith's most affecting work, this exquisite silent melodrama emphasizes atmosphere and emotion over spectacle. Based on a story by Thomas Burke, Broken Blossoms stars Richard Barthelmess as a gentle, spiritually minded Chinese man who immigrates to London and takes a job as a shopkeeper in the city's seamy Limehouse district. There he falls in love with an ethereal waif (the incomparable Lillian Gish) and attempts, with tragic results, to rescue her from her violently abusive prizefighter father (Donald Crisp). Although not nearly as ugly and hysterical in its racism as Griffith's Birth of a Nation, Broken Blossoms is as reviled for the stereotyping of its Asian character as it is admired for its artistry. The Chinese protagonist portrayed by the Caucasian Barthelmess is referred to in title cards as "The Yellow Man" or "Chink" and portrayed as exotic, dissipated, effeminate, and slightly perverse in his sexless but fetishistic adoration of the very white and virginal Gish. Yet the doomed shopkeeper is a sympathetic and ultimately heroic character and is shown to be superior in every way to Crisp's brutal, brawling Englishman. And even if the film's story and sensibilities seem dated, Barthelmess and Gish bring a passion and sensitivity to their roles that make Broken Blossoms moving, universal, and timeless. When Griffith captures the actors in close-up (a technique still new at that point) as they exchange their first languid glances, the image of their faces framed in cameraman Billy Bitzer's iris is one of cinema's most primal and beautiful moments. The entire film has a heady, dreamlike quality: The London waterfront setting (painstakingly reconstructed on a studio back lot) is perpetually shrouded in shadows and fog; bursts of flowery, antiquated poetry adorn the title cards; delicate washes of color tint entire scenes -- deep blue for night, pinks and yellows to suggest sunrises and sunsets. Seductive as the opium the shopkeeper puffs from his "lilied pipe," Broken Blossoms still casts a lingering spell.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Despite the great expense taken to recreate its London Limehouse-district setting, Broken Blossoms is one of D.W. Griffith's most intimate films, and some critics consider it his masterpiece. The director used his vast soundstage to tell the story of a young woman (Lillian Gish) whose love for a spiritual Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess) is thwarted by her abusive boxer father (Donald Crisp); the studio deemed the results too grim to be commercial, and Griffith was forced to buy Blossoms back and release it himself. The film is literally darker than anything the director had previously attempted: the controlled, non-location shoot allowed him to be more expressive with low light and shadow. In a pre-screening, the projectionist accidentally left on one of the theater's colored house lights, and Griffith liked the effect so much that he applied colored tints to subsequent prints. Aside from its technical achievements, Blossoms also features some of Gish's most evocative work. The actress' skills of gesture and pantomime are at their height, and her delicate, fragile performance deflects some of the attention away from Griffith's typically charismatic villain.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/26/2005
UPC:
0089218474193
Original Release:
1919
Rating:
NR
Source:
Alpha Video
Sound:
[silent]
Time:
1:15:00
Sales rank:
44,437

Special Features

[None specified]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lillian Gish Lucy Burrows
Richard Barthelmess Cheng Haun, the Yellow Man
Donald Crisp Battling Burrows
Edward Peil Evil Eye
Arthur Howard Burrow's Manager
George Andre Beranger The Spying One
Ernest Butterworth Actor
Kid McCoy A Prizefighter
George Nichols London Policeman
Karla Schramm Actor
Wilbur Higby London Policeman

Technical Credits
D.W. Griffith Director,Score Composer,Producer,Screenwriter
Billy Bitzer Cinematographer
Karl Brown Cinematographer
Louis F. Gottschalk Score Composer
Hendrik Sartov Cinematographer,Special Effects
James Smith Editor

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Chapter 1 [11:51]
2. Chapter 2 [10:09]
3. Chapter 3 [11:25]
4. Chapter 4 [13:15]
5. Chapter 5 [11:31]
6. Chapter 6 [12:23]

Videos

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Broken Blossoms 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a far more personal film than Birth of A Nation or Intolerance; Broken Blossoms only benefits from the more intimate scope. Lillian Gish is absolutely heartbreaking, and Richard Barthelmess conveys a restrained longing in a far more subtle manner than today's actors could ever dream of. Beware though: this version has a modern-sounding score and no packaging extras. Look closely at the Image edition before making your choice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Was so moved by This movie.I cryed . I love Lillian gish . This is lovely and pure . what love should be and not be.I was so happy she found what love was about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the BEST movies I have ever seen. Lillian Gish plays the unloved child of a prize fighter who treats her like a slave and abuses her endlessly. She finally finds gentleness in a Chinese shop owner. Look for the closet scene( Lillian actually passed out after filming that paticular scene). The movie is a little slow in the beginning, but makes up for it in intensity later on.