Carie Stewart


American Film
September 23, 2004
Professor Dr. Anderson
Way Down East
D.W. Griffith’s great film, Way Down East, is a silent melodramatic
film with many different stories within one great plot. The movie opens
with a mother and a daughter sitting at their quiet countryside house
laughing and talking. The daughter is Anna Moore, the main character of
the film, who must leave to see her cousins in the city. The movie tells
of her travels from her cousin’s house in the city to almost losing her
life on the icy river running away from her past.

In the first scene of the movie, Anna is seen with shorter, darker
hair that is almost always pulled up. By the end of the movie, she has
lighter and longer hair that is almost always down and waving around. I
found this symbolic because it seems as if she becomes happier but more
aged by the end of the film because she has been through so many
experiences trying to run away from her past and make a better future for
herself. She has had so many people in her life that have caused her to
run 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 first
place. When Anna had Sanderson’s baby, Maria Poole, the lady that was
there during the delivery, was ashamed of Anna and spread the word that she
was an unmarried mother, just before Anna’s baby passed away. Martha
Perkins is another character that likes to spread gossip about people. She
heard from Maria Poole that Anna was an unmarried mother and told Anna’s
boss on the homestead so she would have to leave and start a whole new
life. There seems to be the theme of people rooting for Anna to fail
throughout the movie.

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While the movie was pretty self-explanatory in the basic events of
the characters, it was sometimes hard to follow without conversation
between the people in the film and all of the music in the background. The
scenes move very quickly and it was sometimes difficult to keep track. By
the end of the film, it was very helpful for Griffith to wrap the film and
characters up and have his closing comments to recount the events of the
movie. Overall, it was very well scripted and had very good acting by the
characters, especially considering this was made so long ago.

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