1919 is a rough year for film. I thought 1917 was tough… nothing compared to 1919. Almost everything I could have chosen would have led to me talking about the same stuff I’ve already talked about. So I just defaulted to Broken Blossoms, which is the most famous film of 1919, getting a D.W. Griffith bump, and, as it turns out, it actually ended up being a good choice, since I did find something really interesting to talk about.
Full disclosure – I’d never seen the film before I started this feature. And my requisite for choosing any film was that I’d had to have seen it, because otherwise, how do you talk about it?
So I watched this film, and… first off, I thought it was about white slavery until I did. Am I confusing this with another Griffith movie? I thought maybe it was Orphans of the Storm, but that’s not it. I don’t know. For the longest time I thought this movie was about white slavery. Maybe after Thoroughly Modern Millie, every movie with Chinese people is somewhat about white slavery for me.
Anyway, I figured out pretty quickly what I’m going to talk about with this film, and that’s good old-fashioned Hollywood racism! (more…)