End Of The Week Shorts #21 extract: A Man There Was (1917)
I was half expecting another version of Griffith's The Unchaining Sea with A Man There was, but, the melodrama of Griffith's film is replaced by a poetic sense of fate and dismay by Sjöström. This is thanks to the harrowing aesthetics that lift the story above its coincidental roots and the intricate placing of the inordinately plentiful title cards.
Whilst understandably placed for their lyrical qualities derived from the poem from which this was adapted, the use of verbose and innumerable cards is a brave move for a silent film. This is pulled off effortlessly within A Man There Was, however, leaving this a rare example of a great piece of cinema, one that is acutely visual at points, though nonetheless, large-part literary.