Hearts of the World
is a silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...
directed by D.W. Griffith, a wartime propaganda classic that was filmed on location in Britain and near the Western Front, made at the request of the British Government to change the neutral mindset of the American public.
Two families live next to one another in a French village on the eve of World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
. The Boy in one of the families falls for the only daughter in the other family. As they make preparations for marriage, World War I breaks out, and, although the Boy is American, he feels he should fight for the country in which he lives.
When the French retreat, the village is shelled. The Boy's father and the Girl's mother and grandmother are killed. The Girl, deranged, wanders aimlessly through the battlefield and comes upon the Boy badly wounded and unconscious. She finds her way back to the village where she is nursed back to health by The Little Disturber who had previously been a rival for the Boy's affections. The Boy is carried off by the Red Cross.
Upon his recovery, the Boy, disguised as a German officer, infiltrates the enemy occupied village, finds the Girl, and the two of them must kill a German sergeant who has discovered them. Von Strohm, by whom the Girl had narrowly escaped rape earlier in the story, discovers the dead sergeant and locates the Boy and Girl who are locked in an upper room at the inn. It's a race against time with the Germans trying to break the door down as the French return to retake the village.
Lillian Gish, actress playing 'The Girl', later said:
- "Hearts of the World enjoyed great success until the Armistice when people lost interest in war films. The film inflamed audiences. Its depiction of German brutality bordered on the absurd. Whenever a German came near me, he beat me or kicked me."
She also noted that:
- "I don't believe that Mr. Griffith every forgave himself for making "Hearts of the World." "War is the villain," he repeated, "not any particular people."
Some historians have also noted that Hearts of the world
and similar films encouraged a 'hysterical hatred' of the enemy which complicated the task of the Versailles peacemakers
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...
In a scene cut from the movie, new actress Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore was an American film actress, and one of the most fashionable stars of the silent film era.-Early life:...
appeared as a little girl in her bed who, hearing the war raging beyond her window, was so frightened that she turned the hands of her alarm clock forward, hoping that time would rush forward to the end of the fighting.