Lorna Doone (1922)

by | Sep 25, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Lorna Doone (1922)

Starring Madge Bellamy
Directed by Maurice Tourneur
Studio: Ince/Kino Video
Video: Full frame B&W, color-tinted
Audio: PCM stereo
Extras: Tourneur bio and filmography, 1922 NY Times review, Still gallery
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: *** 1/2

Lorna Doone was one of the most popular subjects for films in the early
part of the 20th century. There were at least four silents and six
sound productions of the story.   This version is considered
the most beautiful by far, directed by French artist and photographer
Tourneur, who had moved to the U.S. and found success in directing
films.  He used natural lighting and went for painterly effects n
the composition of his shots.  The color tinting of many of the
scenes is just a color filter over the entire image, such as a bluish
filter for a night scene.

The images are clear and crisp, and the acting doesn’t seem nearly as
overdone as in many silent movies.The original film speed was 18 pfs
and this has been preserved in the excellent transfer. An original
soundtrack score for piano and string orchestra by a Japanese composer
is provided. It’s generally effective though portions become a bit
repetitious.

The story follows the life of the beautiful and noble young girl Lorna,
who is kidnapped by a fearful band of thieves and cutthroats known as
the Doones.  Their leader is a fallen noble, Sir Ensor Doone, who
takes a liking to the girl and raises her as his daughter. Lorna met
just prior to the kidnapping young Little Abnernish peasant John Ridd
(who lives nearby), and remains in love with him. They meet again when
they are grown. But the uncouth Doone Carver wants Lorna for his wife.
Complications ensue.

I found this a well-done and fairly involving silent film.  Like
most of them, the inter-titles are on the screen too long, and the
editing pace seems lugubrious by today’s standards, but Tourneur’s
often lovely images made me want to also see his other representative
silent – a children’s fantasy titled The Blue Bird.

– John Sunier

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