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By Nick James

From Amazon: "For Nick James, the pleasures and virtues of this movie are combined and complicated. Its targeted compositions and minimalist variety are entangled with a selected form of extravagant bombast. The complexities upload to the curiosity of this formidable film." Nick James is the editor of Sight and Sound journal.

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Griffith devoted extraordinary energy and attention to its making. Indeed, he broke irrevocably with the Biograph management, for whom he had directed over five hundred short films, by his refusal to shorten it or to release it as two separate two-reelers. The last film of Griffith’s long and productive association with Biograph, it remained, in his own estimation, one of his very best films. Everything points to the conclusion that Judith of Bethulia is a key film in Griffith’s career. Indeed, it is a film of considerable compositional complexity, thematic directness, and cinematic artistry.

Then she thinks, and as she thinks, the screen is filled with the mangled bodies of those, her own people, slain by this same Holofernes. 1 Actually, what Griffith shows here is not, as it were, natural thought, but a God-given vision. When Judith is transformed by this second vision, the manhood passes out of Holofernes’ hands and animates hers. In Griffith’s imagery, the city of Bethulia itself undergoes a parallel sexual metamorphosis. The climactic image of the rout of the Assyrians is a shot of the triumphant Bethulians pouring out of the brazen gate.

102. P1: IML/FFX P2: IML/FFX 0521820227c01 QC: IML/FFX CB592-Rothman-v4 4 T1: IML September 26, 2003 10:36 The “I” of the Camera spellbinding visions of Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Blanche Sweet, and others, I am struck equally by the voraciousness of his desire for women and his uncanny capacity to identify with them. After the war, the American film industry grew to international dominance. ” But with all their glamour and spectacle, their Latin lovers, flappers, and “It” girls, Hollywood films of the twenties never really made clear what that spirit was, nor it sources, nor the grounds of its opposition to orthodox ideas, nor the identity of the orthodoxy it was opposing.

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