This is one of the most heartbreaking romantic films I’ve seen. D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms is about a young girl who falls for The Yellow Man, a Buddhist, and takes sanctuary in his home to escape her abusive father. Even though Lillian Gish was only in her twenties when she played The White Blossom, she perfectly played the innocence and gentle nature of an impoverished girl. If The Academy Awards were invented back then instead of ten years later, it certainly would have gone to Lillian Gish, D.W. Griffith’s frequent first choice. I know this film is known for the closet scene but the scene where she plays with her doll is what stood out to me the most about Lillian Gish’s performance. The way she is with that doll as if she was a real baby. How naturing and delicate she is and how she would have made a great mother. Your thoughts on that?
While D.W. Griffith’s previous films have been known for being grand and epic, this is the one film that’s more theatrical with simply-built sets and told in a real depiction of how tragic domestic abuse can be. The chemistry between the two leads caught my attention how they have a natural bond with each other that doesn’t need to be told through words but a simple look like this:
This is one of the first films to show an inter-racial couple (even though The Yellow Man is really played by an American). Write in the comments how you feel about that. I was also impressed with the way it told the child abuse plot. The fact that this young girl is so beautiful and would never hurt a fly to deal with evil that lurks her at every corner. That’s what makes the story powerful in that this Buddhist is her safe haven where she’s protected. When The White Blossom locks herself in that closet, she feels like a frightened, tortured animal but she still tries to fight to survive. You feel helpless just being a witness to this.
Watch D.W. Giffith’s most poet and romantic film: