Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Wind (Victor Sjostrom) **1/2

Director: Victor Sjostrom

Cast: Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love, Dorothy Cumming

Background: Victor Sjostrom gained worldwide recognition with 1920's The Phantom Carriage, largely considered one of the best films of the silent era. By 1928, he was one of the highest paid directors in Hollywood. Lillian Gish (who also starred in Sjostrom's The Scarlet Letter) was already a legend and The Wind was to be her 75th screen appearance.

Story: Letty (Gish) moves out west to live with relatives, but soon feels she is not welcome. Out of desperation, she marries a man who she hates and is forced to live a lonely life in a tiny shack that seems to barely withstand the powerful wind storms.

Thoughts: The Wind is a highly regarded film and it's easy to see why. Director Victor Sjostrom has a great sense of atmosphere and creates very interesting characters for us to follow. The technical aspects were really advanced for the time period. Also, we have a legendary actress in the main role delivering a very strong performance. However, the story just never really comes together in a compelling way. The pacing, especially throughout the second half, is really weak and the film literally crawls to the conclusion. Gish was an amazing acress, but by this point, it seems pretty stale to see her repeatedly mistreated and abused throughout a film. Still, I'm definitely interested in seeing more Sjostrom films.

Postscript: Sjostrom would only make 5 more films before his directing career ended in 1937. He went on to act in many Swedish films for the next 30 years. Gish's output decreased, but she did not disappear. She would get an Oscar nonmination in 1946 for King Vidor's Duel in the Sun.

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