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BiographThere is something about these very early Biograph silent movies… Stories compressed in ten or twenty minutes, the transition in progress from stage to screen, an endearing amount of unreality and naïvety…

Take for instance The Hessian Renegades, from 1909 – with a very young Mary Pickford already showing much promise in one of D.W. Griffith’s earliest efforts:

And here is the second part…

And yes, the Hessians are all Very Evil – and not a little dimwitted, and, as Movies, Silently observes, not provided with peripheral view… whereas the Americans are heroic to the last – if a tad prone to outlandish and/or unwise courses of action. But this is how it worked back then, how cinema was trying to invent itself as an art, how it struggled to emancipate itself from theatre.

It is interesting to see Griffith, Pickford and everyone else beginning to find their legs in what is still quite a new way of telling stories through moving images – with only two title cards!

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