D.W. Griffith is heavily represented among the early films on the list. At this point I was getting a bit tired of his movies. They had really lowered the bar for what I expected from an early movie. This may be a reason why I was happy with Broken Flowers.
The lead character is a Chinese with high ideals who go out in the world, but in the west he succumbs to a modest life in the city, mainly under the influence of opium. The female lead is a young girl (as usual Lillian Gish) who lives in poverty with her brute of a father. When she eventually is left to rot it is the Chinese who saves her and takes care of her.
The remarkable thing here is not that it is a European actor playing Chinese, nor that he is considered bottom of society just for being Chinese. These things were part of the time along with blackface actors and other similar social injustices. Not even that this is actually a modernized version of the Merciful Samaritan story. No, the remarkable thing is that this was made by the same director who made “Birth of a Nation”. Where in “Birth of a Nation” the Afro-Americans were less than human, here the Chinese is more human than the whites. Maybe after all he did learn something.
The movie suffer from heavy heavy melodrama and very explicit overacting which I found difficult at the time, but which I have since learned is an integral part of early silents. This does not change that technically, story wise and on a deeper moral level this is a much more satisfying movie than Griffith earlier movies and in my opinion also better than the later Griffith movies on the list.