Director D.W. Griffith has made it his aim to express certain spiritual elements of real life in terms of melodrama. The terms of the story are pehaps theatrical, but its essence is of the spirit.
The theme – fro two stories by Thomas Burke, who also wrote the original story from which Broken Blossoms was taken – might be set down in its briefest form as this: we are all of us made up of good and bad and vague but strong forces are at work within us and about us to give direction to these raw materials of character.
That being the thesis, Griffith makes his meaning plain in the story of two brothers, Billy McFadden, physically weak but spiritually fine, and ‘Spike’ McFadden, a physical giant with a certain arrogance and almost brutal selfishness.
The players are splendid. Carol Dempster as Gypsy seems at first just a suspicion of too hard in her regular beauty, but misted portraits in the closeups correct this.