A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1909 – A Corner in Wheat

I love this movie, so much. To the point where even people who barely watch movies know about this and/or have seen it purely because I made them. It’s a brilliant movie. And shit, they even referenced it in Wall-E. And who are we to argue with that?

It’s another D.W. Griffith film, and what can I say? The man just made iconic movies. It’s another one of those “message” films, that is ultimately about something wrong with society. Though this one is pretty overt about it, rather than getting to its point later on, like The Kleptomaniac did.

It starts (and ends) with one of the most famous shots in all of cinema. And it’s actually a very well-structured film.

It begins with the poor farmers who work on the land and grow the wheat, which is their source of income. And then we see a tycoon who just sort of decides to corner the market in wheat. Which causes the prices to skyrocket and starving people to be unable to afford it. All because the dude just decided to become a little bit richer.

And the film does a great job of showing the difference between the rich and the poor, and also manages to give the tycoon some comeuppance in the end. While going on a tour of a grainery, he falls into the pit and is buried by all the wheat. A nice, ironic end for him. And of course, the film ends with the return to the farmers, still planting the wheat. Life goes on, the wheat will still be planted, the only constant. Money means nothing.

It’s mostly tableau shots, not visually as interesting as other Griffith works. But that beautiful shot of the farmers planting the seeds is incredibly memorable. Plus it’s always fun watching rich white people have bad things happen to them. Mostly this film is memorable on a social level. You can break it down and everything, and I’m sure there’s a lot more to say about everything in this movie, but mostly it’s an obvious choice because it’s just such an iconic film. And that makes it pretty boring for me, since I don’t know what else to talk about except to say, “It’s A Corner in Wheat. Obviously I was going to choose this for 1909.”

Fun piece of trivia – it’s based on a novel. And if you look up the novel it’s based on, “The Pit,” by Frank Norris, it has absolutely nothing to do with this movie. Which is pretty great.

Other fun fact, that shows you how ridiculously nerdy I am with film (and possibly in life… but that still will always come back to movies): most people in high school or college were probably at some point introduced to the board game Settlers of Catan. Maybe you can see where this is going. I was introduced to this by friends, and played it a bunch over my freshman year. And by the time summer came, someone discovered a site that allowed us to play when we weren’t on campus (since apparently that was the only game we played when we were sober. Or the only game we had that was playable sober). And so the user name I chose…

Yeah, you guys get it.

If not, don’t worry about it. It’s an amusing play on words that only works in a very specific context if you know the rules of the game and are fans of silent cinema.

Now I have a blog and a Twitter that allow me to make weird ass jokes that only I think are funny.

I’m a real niche market.

That’s how I introduce myself to women, right there. “A real niche market.”

Did you guys know we were talking about famous movies this month?

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