30 January 2006 | Snow Leopard
Simple But Generally Effective
This simple but effective one-reel drama is one of many examples of the gradual refinements in technique that can be seen in D. W. Griffith's developmental years as a director. The setup and the character development are somewhat thin, and this is the main thing that differentiates it from his better features. The exposition and action, though, are done quite effectively.
The story begins with a brief scene showing a young woman choosing between two suitors, and then follows all three of them as they head west as settlers. When their party falls under attack, it puts them into a situation that particularly tests the character of the two men, when the group of settlers desperately needs water in order to continue.
The action scenes are filmed in convincing fashion for the time, and they are good forerunners of the even more elaborate scenes of battles, sieges, and attacks in some of Griffith's later and better-known movies.
The characters are not quite as deep, and in later movies Griffith would find better ways of efficiently establishing a character's nature and personality. Here, the key difference in character between the two suitors is established only on the simplest of levels, by having one of them shown drinking frequently.
Overall, this feature is of some interest as a drama, but only to those who are already fans of its era and genre. It's a little more interesting as an example of what is and is not particularly effective in terms of its techniques.