Hearts of the World, May 1918

Lillian Gish and Robert Harron in a scene from D. W. Griffith's Hearts of the World
Lillian Gish and Robert Harron in a scene from D. W. Griffith’s Hearts of the World

44th Street Theatre – “Hearts of the World,” directed by D. W. Griffith. To quote the programme “Hearts of the World” is the story of a village, scenario by M. Gaston de Tolignac, translated into English by Captain Victor Marier and produced under the personal direction of D. W. Griffith. A great title “Hearts of the World” but hardly a great picture. To my mind, the one salient point lacking is theme. There is nothing about “Hearts of the World particularly worth remembering after leaving the theatre, except the remarkable histrionic ability of the Gish Sisters, Lillian and Dorothy, and the splendid performance of Robert Harron. True, Mr Griffith has portrayed village life in France before  the war, and during the war, with the fine exactitude that characterizes all of his work, but with it all, not forgetting some remarkable battle scenes, the big idea, so essential to a big picture isn’t here. “Hearts of the World” is a charming love story, but one has come to expect more than that from D. W. Griffith’s past performances. However, there is plenty of bang and to go the picture, and , and with the added attraction of an exceptionally capable cast, and flawless direction, the picture is well worth seeing, providing the weaker sex are not squeamish about seeing the truth about the war, depicted faithfully and unadulterated. To quote the programme again, the following synopsis gives a fairly accurate description of “Hearts of the World”:

Two American painters make their homes in France. Marie, the daughter of one painter, and Douglas Hamilton, the oldest son of the other live next door to each other. A natural event is the love between the two.

The Little Disturber, a strolling singer, falls in love with young Douglas also. However, this affair does not develop to any disastrous conclusion.

Marie and her lover are in the midst of great preparations for their coming wedding when the Great War begins. Though an American citizen he gives his life to the service of France.

Marie and her family, left at home in the village, refuse to believe the possibility of danger.

The little French company, a part of the great army of France, however, are beaten back by the great German offensive. Then follows the overwhelming of the French, the bombardment and destrucion of the village. The scenes of the evacuation and of the distress and terror of the villages under the bombardment.

The latter part of the story takes up the village under the German occupation.

In this village Marie and the Little Disturber manage to drag out an existence at the village inn, now in possession of the Huns.

The story relates the suffering, privations and agony of the villagers in their captivity, relating also the preparations for the rescue of the village by the French, the massing of their troops, the intense struggle of the French soldiers to recapture the village and free their loved ones; and the prayers and hopes of the women and children of the village awaiting their deliverance, ascend from cellar and crypt in the stricken district.

Mirilo (Theatre Magazine, May 1918)