The Wind (1928) Victor Seastrom
In 1928, Victor Seastrom produced a romantic silent drama film entitled “The Wind” starring Lillian Gish. This was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, when the studio was slowly converting to sound films. During this time period, MGM was experimenting with unique special effects and synchronized sounds to go along with the plot. However, this version had a different soundtrack which could be jarring and obnoxious to viewers. The sound effects were loud drums, screaming people and howling wind as well as others. Those sound effects may have been obnoxious, but it synced up very well with the movie. Despite the obnoxious sound effects, this movie had many achievements such as using creative special effects and a combination montage and mise-en-scene.
The movie began with the main character, Letty (Lillian Gish) riding on a train across a desert to West Texas to meet her cousin, Beverly (Edward Earle). On the train ride, Letty met a man, Wirt Roddy and had drinks together. At the end of the train ride, Letty and the man parted ways and then she was picked up by two men. In addition to Roddy, the two other men liked Letty. She then met Beverly, and her cousin’s wife, Cora, who was very jealous of Letty. Cora and Letty continued to have a rough relationship, and she left her cousin’s house eventually. When she left her cousin’s, the stage set where Letty would have to go somewhere to live or to settle down with one of those men. She initially went to Roddy, but he was already married, so she went to the two other guys, and she chose Lige (Lars Hanson).
Throughout the movie, there were strong winds every time something went wrong, which represented a turmoil in her relationship journey. The movie opened up with Letty getting off a train in heavy winds. Then again when Letty was at her cousin, Beverly’s house, at a dance where Letty reunited with Roddy and finally multiple times when she was with Lige. The wind effects were basically a big sandstorm with a tornado in the center of the storm. There were instances of when the actors panicked and other instances where they walked and rode on horses through the middle of the storm. By the end of the movie, Letty overcame her relationship serious difficulties with the male co-stars, and that allowed her to no longer be afraid of the wind.
“The Wind” got its title because the wind replaced the violence or chaotic events between the actors as well as it symbolizes a big struggle. The acting was realistic for the time period because there were different censorship codes within movies. The most disturbing part that had to be inferred was a rape scene between Letty and Roddy. That scene was not illustrated and was replaced with a perfect windstorm. This movie was a turning point in film history because there was a usage of different editing techniques (e.g. cross cuts, montage and mise-en scene) that made the plot more interesting and easier to follow.