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A cruel web of deceit and sexual desire ensnares an innocent young woman in D.W. Griffith's powerful silent epic, Way Down East. On her first visit to rich relatives in the big city, starry-eyed country waif Anna Moore (Lillian Gish) is easy prey for a scheming womanizer who cons her out of her virginity with a staged "marriage." He later walks out on his pregnant "wife," telling her the sordid truth that the marriage ceremony was a sham. After her baby dies, she is driven to wandering the streets in shame and destitution. Alone and desparate, Anna begs door to door for work until she is taken in as a servant by a pious, hard working farm family. Just as it appears that she is beginning to turn her life around, her past catches up to her. The shocked patriarch of the household that gave her shelter now drives her from his home into a raging blizzard, where she is soon lost, dazed and adrift on a runaway ice floe racing downriver toward a waterfall and her doom. Master storyteller D.W. Griffith, the great pioneer of early American cinema, tackles complex themes of prejudice, judgement, sexual inequality and redemption in a film that builds brilliantly from an intimate, emotionally charged personal melodrama to a breathtakingly epic cliffhanger climax. Way Down East stands with Intolerance and The Birth of a Nation as one of Griffith's three greatest masterpieces, all groundbreaking milestones in cinema history.

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ALP4513 Way Down East DVD (1920/D.W. Griffith) $5.99