Enoch Arden (film #3 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 5: Griffith and Lubin (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This romantic tale, based on a Tennysson poem, is a lot better than you'd expect it to be, given its period. Enoch Arden must compete with Philip for the affections of pretty Annie, but Philip eventually relents when it becomes clear to him that Annie really loves Enoch. Annie marries Enoch and they have two children, but Enoch is unable to provide for his family very well, so he takes up an opportunity for finding riches on a sea voyage. Unfortunately, he ends up shipwrecked on an island. Annie waits valiantly for her man for many years, but eventually agrees to marry Philip for the sake of her children. At first it is only a marriage of convenience for her, but she eventually develops affection for Philip after she bears a child with him. Not long afterward, Enoch is rescued from the island, overjoyed that he can be reunited with his family. But he is a bedraggled old man with a long white beard and some unpleasant surprises to face on the homefront. He is heartbroken to find out that Annie has wed another, but when observes how happy she is with her new family he gallantly decides not to tell her of his return. Instead he dies alone in a cheap room (sniff! sniff!). Really, it's surprising to find out how genuinely touching this film is when so many others of its time were so over-the-top with the melodrama. The acting is excellent and Griffith seems to have gotten down the basics of clear storytelling. This film is a good example of D. W. Griffith at his best. A 1911 D. W. Griffith film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

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