W. Griffith’s great film, Way Down East, is a silent melodramaticfilm with many different stories within one great plot. The movie openswith a mother and a daughter sitting at their quiet countryside houselaughing and talking. The daughter is Anna Moore, the main character ofthe film, who must leave to see her cousins in the city.
The movie tellsof her travels from her cousin’s house in the city to almost losing herlife on the icy river running away from her past. In the first scene of the movie, Anna is seen with shorter, darkerhair that is almost always pulled up. By the end of the movie, she haslighter and longer hair that is almost always down and waving around. Ifound this symbolic because it seems as if she becomes happier but moreaged by the end of the film because she has been through so manyexperiences trying to run away from her past and make a better future forherself. She has had so many people in her life that have caused her torun away or hide.
Some of these people are her “husband” Lennox Sanderson,who lied to her about their marriage; they were never married in the firstplace. When Anna had Sanderson’s baby, Maria Poole, the lady that wasthere during the delivery, was ashamed of Anna and spread the word that shewas an unmarried mother, just before Anna’s baby passed away. MarthaPerkins is another character that likes to spread gossip about people. Sheheard from Maria Poole that Anna was an unmarried mother and told Anna’sboss on the homestead so she would have to leave and start a whole newlife. There seems to be the theme of people rooting for Anna to failthroughout the movie. While the movie was pretty self-explanatory in the basic events ofthe characters, it was sometimes hard to follow without conversationbetween the people in the film and all of the music in the background.
Thescenes move very quickly and it was sometimes difficult to keep track. Bythe end of the film, it was very helpful for Griffith to wrap the film andcharacters up and have his closing comments to recount the events of themovie. Overall, it was very well scripted and had very good acting by thecharacters, especially considering this was made so long ago.