Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Movie review - "The Wind" (1928) ***1/2 (warning: spoilers)

One of several classic films Lilian Gish made at MGM, at a time when silent movie making was reaching it's peak. It's confident and beautifully put together, although the ending is dumb.

I wasn't familiar with the story, so experienced the rare sensation of having it play out with no preconceptions. Basically Lilian goes to live on the plains, which are subject to howling, howling winds - so howling they send people ga ga. She makes eyes at a cad before finding out he's married, makes the wife of her cousin insane with jealousy, and so marries a nice lug head down the road (Lars Hanson) but doesn't love him. The cad comes back and rapes her (it's implied) so Gish - who by now have been driven ga ga herself in the wind - shoots him. She buries him outside but the wind uncovers and body and Gish goes even more mad which is awesome.

Then it gets confusing. The husband turns up, can't find the body, says something about wind washing away sins, then she says she loves him and isn't afraid anymore. It was a tacked on happy ending that feels false, when clearly Gish should go walk out into the wind and die.

But it is amazing to look at - the Swedish director clearly got the concept of the film, the windswept plains, the isolation and madness... it's a very Scandinavian MGM film. Gish is terrific and Lars Hanson does well in support (those sort of understated roles are harder to do than you think). I was disappointed Dorothy Cumming, as the jealous woman, didn't go berko with the knife, like you think is going to happen.

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