music friday: fillmore west 1968
out of the coma again

the wind (victor sjöström, 1928)

The last silent film for legendary Lillian Gish, and one of her best. Her acting mostly lacks the kind of overdone mime that often plagues silent films ... she really shines, here, as Letty, newly arrived in the West.  Victor Sjöström pours on the atmosphere, helped by the Mojave Desert where it was filmed. The Wind is a combination of the gritty realism of the setting and the mystical use Sjöström presents to reflect the impact of that setting on Letty.

The main villain is close to a mustache-twirling stereotype, but the secondary bad guys aren't too over-the-top. What is clear is how difficult it is for Letty to adapt to a world where every man seems one step away from rape. At times, it's hard to tell whether Letty suffers more from the desert wind or the mere presence of men. It's a dark film, although there is a happy ending that some (including Gish) claim was a compromise after studio heads disapproved of a more downbeat ending. (The ending we get is pretty dumb, the downbeat conclusion would have been more appropriate, but the claims of compromise are contested.) #481 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of all time.


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