Broken Blossoms
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Based on "The Chink and the Child", a story by Thomas Burke, Broken Blossoms is one of D.W. Griffith's most poetic films. Richard Barthelmess plays a young Chinese aristocrat who hopes to spread the gospel of his Eastern religion to the grimy corners of London's Limehouse district. Rapidly disillusioned, Barthelmess opens a curio shop and takes to smoking opium. One evening, Lillian Gish, the waif-like daughter of drunken prizefighter Donald Crisp, collapses on Barthelmess' doorstep after enduring one more of her father's brutal beatings. Barthelmess shelters the… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Although the picture consumes only 90 minutes, it somehow seems draggy, for the reason that everything other than the scenes with the three principals seems extraneous and tends to clog the progression of the tale."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"One of D.W. Griffith's most beautiful films."
‑ Don Druker, Chicago Reader
"Definitely a silent drama fighting against the traditional limitations of the form and the strict social mores of the day. One of Lillian Gish's most moving performances."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
"It's an important film that should be seen, but it's hardly the flawless masterpiece it's often hailed as."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"The love story at the center of Broken Blossoms is deliberately overstuffed but unmistakably colored with infinite shades of biting irony and social critique."
‑ Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
"Very much on the credit side, though, are stretches of pure Griffith poetry, marvellous use of light and shadow in cameraman Billy Bitzer's evocation of foggy Limehouse, and a truly unforgettable performance from Gish."
‑ Tom Milne, Time Out
"Films like this, naive as they seem today, helped nudge a xenophobic nation toward racial tolerance."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"One of the screen's greatest symbioses of performance and photography."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"The delicate insinuations of competing amorous and cultural allegiances provide the movie with some of its best and most technically assured sequences."
‑ Nick Davis, Nick's Flick Picks
"Despite Griffith's trademark sentimentalism this is one of his most successful silent dramas, and the film's handling of the then tricky subject of interracial love is unexpectedly sensitive."
‑ , Film4
"There is so much that is unusually excellent and excellently unusual in Broken Blossoms that one is compelled by enthusiasm to write about it."
‑ , New York Times
"The most elemental and uncluttered of D.W. Griffith's major melodramas."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"This mawkish Victorian melodrama rises above its faults with a stylishly beautiful film that also brings real tragedy to the screen."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Progressive for its day, but strictly of historic value today."
‑ Phil Hall, Film Threat
"Despite its old-fashioned melodrama roots, a great movie with Gish at her most beautiful and vulnerable. Griffith was the master."
‑ Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
More reviews for Broken Blossoms on Rotten Tomatoes