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Way Down East [Blu-ray] (1920)

Lillian Gish , Richard Barthelmess , D.W. Griffith  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Way Down East [Blu-ray] + The Birth of a Nation - Special Edition [Blu-ray] + Intolerance [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Lowell Sherman, Creighton Hale, Burr McIntosh
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: KINO INTERNATIONAL
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2011
  • Run Time: 149 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005J7K9EG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,089 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

D.W. Griffith's penchant for Victorian melodrama reached its height of expression in WAY DOWN EAST. First performed in 1898, Lottie Blair Parker's play was one of the most successful stageworks ever written, a theatrical chestnut, heavy with sentiment, that cried out for the touch of the master. Griffith captured the appeal of Parker's original, while embossing it with devices borrowed from other popular melodramas, such as the climactic chase across an ice floe (inspired by stage adaptations of Uncle Tom's Cabin). Lillian Gish stars as a small-town girl who is seduced, impregnated, and cast aside by Lennox Sanderson, a wealthy playboy (Lowell Sherman). To escape the shame of having a fatherless child, Anna changes her name and starts a new life in a small farming community, where she meets David, an icon of male virtue and decency (Richard Barthelmess). Their delicate happiness is threatened when Lennox arrives in town, and word of Anna's unsavory past begins to spread. FROM A NEW HD MASTER, FIRST TIME EVER ON BLU-RAY!

Excerpts from Lottie Blair Parker's original play, Photos of William Brady's 1903 stage version, Film Clip: The ice floe sequence of the Edison Studio's production of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Image gallery, including the original souvenir program book, Notes on the preparation of the music score.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Way Back to Griffith February 28, 2001
Format:DVD
In order to truly enjoy a film like Way Down East it is necessary to try to perform the seemingly impossible task of transporting yourself back into the 1920's. It is very easy to be critical of the moralizing, the melodrama and the attitudes. It is easy to find a film like this primitive in its techniques and its acting. But this is to miss the point and prevents a viewer from having a great silent film experience. This film carries the viewer along with the intensity of the emotion that is portrayed, especially by Lillian Gish in what is perhaps her best performance. Certain scenes have become archetypes, such as the `leave my house' scene. Some people may criticise the so-called comic relief scenes in this film. But it must be remembered that they are not intended to be funny in the sense of Keaton or Chaplin, for this would make the film fantasy rather than drama. They are supposed to be light relief, nothing more. The best thing about this DVD is that it shows the film complete. The colour tinting, which should always be reproduced if at all possible, is subtle and greatly adds to the mood of each scene. The print shows some damage in places which at times is quite serious, but does not detract from the enjoyment of the film. We must accept that sometimes it is not possible to restore a film to perfection. It is better to have a few damaged frames than to have them missing. The original music for a 1928 reissue is reproduced and sounds fine. Finally this DVD includes extensive sleeve notes which are informative and well written. Griffith, as far as I am concerned, will always remain one of the greatest of directors and Way Down East is one of his finest films.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Gish Performance January 31, 2000
Format:DVD
Way Down East, although technically imperfect by the over-exacting standards of modern-day audiences (who are used to expensive computer-generated special effects which rarely serve to truly augment a film and often serve as a cover for woefully deficient plots), is nothing short of a masterpiece. As usual, Lillian Gish's acting is superb, and the ice floe sequence near the end is truly riveting even with a couple of continuity problems. Richard Barthelmess shines through as David Bartlett, turning in another fine performance. Way Down East is another of Griffith's masterpieces, and this release features the full-length version mastered at the correct film speed, complete with original tints, and the original score, recorded on Vitaphone discs for the film's 1930 reissue, making for an outstanding evening's entertainment. Excellent!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Gish Viewing December 2, 1999
By Randall
Format:DVD
This and Broken Blossoms are the defining moments in Lillian Gish's career. Watch and you'll be hooked. I pretty much bestow all the same accolades as everybody else about this film. Griffith was not quite a master of slapstick, but the moments here are not much different from other comedies at the time. The key of course is Gish's mesmerizing performance and a simple plot (this is 1920 of course). What a treat it is to own this movie and other silents on DVD. The picture quality is virtually perfect. The music score is a recording of an original score. It's scratchy but authentic. My only gripe with this edition is the title cards. The letters look like they came from the Sunday comics. One small quibble in an otherwise remarkable DVD.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
In 1920, D.W. Griffith would go on to do a film adaptation of Lottie Blair Parker's play "Way Down East".

Despite the fact that two silent film adaptations were previously done (including a Henry Fonda talkie in 1935), Griffith paid $175,000 for the screen rights to the film and in those days, that was astronomical as it became the most expensive film for the filmmaker. But also one of his most successful films in the box office taking in over $4.5 million in 1920. The film was also known for using an early Technicolor process and for D.W. Griffith, wanting to attain realism, shot the winter scenes during the latter part of the film in an actual blizzard.

Back in 2008, "Way Down East" was included with the Kino International DVD box set "Griffith Masterworks 2' and featured the remastered version by the Museum of Modern Art. Now, "Way Down East" will be released on Blu-ray in Nov. 2011 courtesy of Kino Lorber.

VIDEO:

"Way Down East" is presented in 1080p High Definition and the film is color tinted. The film is mastered in HD from the Museum of Modern Art's 35mm restoration with original color tints. It's important to note that the Museum of Modern Art did the best restoration possible with the original existing film elements. With that being said, the film features a lot more clarity and detail in HD compared to its 2008 DVD release.

While the film does have specks, scratches and even moments where we can see film damage, fortunately it's not too bad and doesn't take you away from the actual viewing experience.

With that being said, unfortunately this is not the complete version of the film.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mawkish at times, but stays with you August 27, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
First, let's get one thing clear: this is old-fashioned melodrama, pure and simple. The situations have been used before ("Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" seem two prominent sources) and real emotion is eschewed by most of the actors in favor of Delsartian posing. The film is conventional in plot and design. However, for some reason I find myself replaying scenes from this film in my head, and moments come back me at odd times. The ice flow scene is a deserved classic -- you feel genuine concern, especially knowing that none of it is high-tech computer wizardry: this is the real thing. Griffith manages some other affecting scenes (the baptism comes to mind) and much of the movie is shot on location, with some lovely scenes of pastoral America. The best aspect of the film, however, is the acting of Lillian Gish. Where other characters resort to mugging, her expressive face and large doe eyes register every emotion truthfully and beautifully. Griffith exploits her talent in as many close-ups as he can get of her. She has mastered the art of silent film acting, and this film is a textbook example by one of the greatest stars of the era. Griffith's real failing in this picture comes in the truly poor comedy scenes. They are irritating, amateurish, and decidedly unfunny. This edition is beautifully done, with the original colored tints used. This is a classic document of an art form and a type of story-telling that has been lost to us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Lillian Gish is in a silent movie
I would only recommend this movie to die hard film buffs who love silent movies. It is very old and dated but does have a famous scene on an ice flow. Look this up on youtube. Read more
Published 3 months ago by carl jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Movie Fan
Being a huge fan of Lillian Gish, I have to give this movie 5 stars. Lillian Gish was such a wonderful actress, as were most of the other actors and actresses from this time. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MJ Smith70
5.0 out of 5 stars A must
I saw this movie years ago, and am now very happy to own a copy. To any cinema buff, like me, this DW Griffith movie is a must for any good movie collector, as well as Intolerance... Read more
Published 8 months ago by luiggi
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the silent era's shining lights
The editing for the movie was great with no dropped connections, so the flow was perfect...not something that was a given at this point in time. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Rick M. Pilotte
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really great
I do like older films but this one just did not seem to have the script and acting I would expect for the time period when the film was produced.
Published 13 months ago by Leod Mann
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film, Mediocre Blue Ray
After reading many positive reviews of this Blu-ray version of "Way Down East" on the Internet, I was expecting better than this. Read more
Published 17 months ago by D. Solomon
4.0 out of 5 stars A Late Review
"Way Down East", was quite a hit when it debuted in 1920.
Ninety years is a tad long of a wait for a review. Read more
Published on October 25, 2010 by Dean A. Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars Gish the great
i love silent movies,i love lilian Gish,i loved this film,Griffith's master piece,iwould have given it 5 or 7 stars BUT.... Read more
Published on August 30, 2010 by Tarek Sharara
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the silent classics
I recently purchased this DVD to replace my battered old VHS copy. The picture quality is quite good for the most part, although allowances have to be made for a movie that's... Read more
Published on May 18, 2010 by George A. Ramsey Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Lillian Gish
Great movie. I am really into silent films which works for me as I am not quite 100% deaf so silent films are excellant for me.
Published on June 25, 2009 by Michael D. Cannon
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