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"Broken Blossoms" (1919) director D. W. Griffith, cinematographer Billy Bitzer

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

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.

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 7.6 rating in IMDB.

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

You can see a slideshow of stills from this film and other interesting stuff on our website

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