Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess


Directed by               D. W. Griffith
Produced by             Adolph Zukor
Scenario by               D. W. Griffith          
Based on                    the short story “The Chink and the Child” by Thomas Burke
Starring                     Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp
Cinematography       Billy Bitzer
Editing by                  James Smith
Distributed by           United Artists
Release date               20 October 1919
Running time             90 min.
Country                      United States
Language                    Silent film, English intertitles


"Broken Blossoms" (1919) is a poignant drama made for mature audiences, directed by D. W. Griffith.  This film illustrates the work of our star cinematographer Billy Bitzer. 


Cheng (Richard Barthelmess) leaves his native China to spread the peaceful teachings of Buddha.  In London, working as a store keeper, he is soon crushed by life's realities, from which he escapes temporarily using opium.  

In the same neighborhood lives a tender young girl named Lucy (Lillian Gish), who is constantly abused by her brutal father (Donald Crisp).  One day, after being mercilessly whipped by him, Lucy wanders the streets and collapses in Cheng's home.  He nurses her back to health and the two outcast souls develop a tender platonic bond.  For Lucy this is the first time in her life that someone is good to her, and for Cheng this revives his forgotten youthful dreams.  

The dreams end abruptly when Lucy's father learns that she is with the Chinese man and the end is tragic. 

This is a heartbreaking story of despair, hope, love and tragedy.  The film has not lost any of its luster almost a century after its release.

The film is ranked number 21 in the list of The Top 100 Silent Era Films of the influential website Silent Era.

In 1996, "Broken Blossoms" (1919) was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".  The film enjoys a strong rating in IMDB.


Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919) on IMDb



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   Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess