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art the wind

The Wind

The Wind (1928) is an American dramatic silent film directed by the Victor Sjöström. The movie was adapted by Frances Marion from the novel The Wind written by Dorothy Scarborough. It features Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love, Dorothy Cumming, and others.

It was one of the last silent films released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Plot

The silent tells the story of a sheltered woman named Letty (Lillian Gish) who lives in the East in Virginia and moves to West Texas to live at her cousin Beverly's ranch at Sweet Water. On her way, she is constantly bothered by the never stopping blowing wind. Wirt Roddy (Montagu Love) notices and seduces her in the train. He scares her by saying the wind usually drives women crazy. After her arrival, she is picked up by Beverly's closest neighbour Lige Hightower (Lars Hanson), who lives 15 miles from her cousin. Letty is afraid of him, but Roddy assures her he will visit her sometimes to look how she is doing. After endless miles in sand and wind, they arrive at the ranch. Beverly (Edward Earle) is delighted with her arrival, but his wife Cora (Dorothy Cumming) is only jealous, despite Letty saying she and Beverly are like brother and sister. Her grudge against Letty becomes even worse when her children have an immediate connection with her, while they all seem to dislike their mother.

At a part, Mr. Sourdough (William Orlamond) reveals he intends on proposing to Letty. Lige stops him and explains he wants to propose to her himself. Letty is accompanied by Roddy when a cyclone interrupts the party. The guests all hide in a shelter and Roddy declares his love to Letty and begs her to run off with him. After the cyclone is over, both Lige and Mr. Sourdough propose to her, but Letty thinks it's a joke. Cora comes in and demands her to leave Beverly alone.

Letty is shocked and decides to leave the ranch. Because she has neither money nor a place to go, she decides to accept a wedding proposal from Lige. He is delighted to marry her, but she finds him disgusting. When she admits she doesn't want to be around him, Lige is hurt and promises her he will never touch her. Letty remains living with him and keeps household, but is constantly annoyed by the wind. One day, Lige tells her he is going to a meeting of a few cattlemen. Letty, bored with the household and driven insane by the wind, begs to go with him but he refuses her to go. Letty follows him anyway but is hurt in a severe sand storm. Lige rescues her and orders Mr. Sourdough to bring her back home. Here, she is forced to nurse the severly injured Roddy. He forces himself up to her, but she rejects him. Lige, who has just come back, interrupts them. An afraid Letty is now happy to see him and they kiss. Lige soon leaves again for the meeting.

That night, a bad storm makes the house shake. Letty is driven insane and loses her mind, before fainting. Roddy saves her, but she demands him to go away. He becomes agressive, which results into Letty shooting him to death. Afraid, Letty decides to burry him. However, while digging, the wind makes her lose her mind yet again. She is driven mad, but Lige stops her. She admits she has killed and burried Roddy. Lige realizes the wind has made her like this and promises her she will be out of the wind soon. Letty declares her love to him and they kiss.

Background

Gish came with the idea of making a film adaption of the novel of the same name. Irving Thalberg immediately gave her permission to do so. Gish recalled wanting Lars Hanson as her leading man after having him seen in a Swedish film with Greta Garbo. She also assigned Victor Sjöström as the director herself. Sjöström directed Gish before in the 1926 movie The Scarlet Letter.

The film was shot partially near Bakersfield and the Mojave Desert, California. The off-key happy ending of the film that was released was added at the insistence of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, who refused to approve the novel's logical ending in which Gish's character wandered into a windstorm and died.

Cast

Critical reception

The British newspaper, The Guardian, recently reviewed the work of director Victor Sjöström and they wrote, "And in America his three most famous works - He Who Gets Slapped (1924), The Scarlet Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928) - each dealt with human suffering. The Wind is almost certainly the best - a silent classic, revived in recent years by producer/ director Kevin Brownlow with a Carl Davis score, which gave the great Lillian Gish one of the finest parts of her career...Sjostrom treats the inevitable clash between Letty and her new surroundings with considerable realism and detail, allowing Gish as much leeway as possible to develop her performance. The entire film was shot in the Mohave Desert under conditions of great hardship and difficulty and this was probably the first 'Western' that tried for truth as well as dramatic poetry. One of its masterstrokes, which looks far less self-conscious than any description of it may seem, is the moment when Letty hallucinates in terror at the sight of the partially buried body of her attacker.

In a retrospective of silent films, the Museum of Modern Art screened The Wind and included a review of the film in their program. They wrote, "What makes The Wind such an eloquent coda to its dying medium is Seastrom's and Gish's distillation of their art forms to the simplest, most elemental form: there are no frills. Seastrom was always at his best as a visual poet of natural forces impinging on human drama; in his films, natural forces convey drama and control human destiny. Gish, superficially fragile and innocent, could plumb the depths of her steely soul and find the will to prevail. The genius of both Seastrom and Gish comes to a climactic confluence in The Wind. Gish is Everywoman, subject to the most basic male brutality and yet freshly open to the possibility of romance. As a result, the film offers a quintessential cinematic moment of the rarest and most transcendentally pure art.

When the film first opened in 1928, however, the press was not as kind. Mordaunt Hall, film critic for The New York Times, for example, was very critical of the film and he found it difficult to suspend his disbelief regarding the special effects and Lillian Gish's acting. He wrote, "Yesterday afternoon's rain was far more interesting than...The Wind,...The rain was real, and in spite of the lowering skies there was life and color around you. In the picture, the wind, whether it is a breeze or a cyclone, invariably seems a sham, and Lillian Gish, the stellar light in this new film, frequently poses where the wind is strongest; during one of the early episodes she does her bit to accentuate the artificiality of this tale by wearing the worst kind of hat for a wind. Victor Seastrom hammers home his points until one longs for just a suggestion of subtlety. The villain's sinister smile appears to last until his dying breath.

Awards

In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

See also

References

Notes

External links

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