Ramona is a little orphan of the great Spanish household of Moreno. Alessandro, the Indian, arrives at the Camulos ranch with his sheep-shearers, showing his first meeting with Ramona. ...
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Ramona is a little orphan of the great Spanish household of Moreno. Alessandro, the Indian, arrives at the Camulos ranch with his sheep-shearers, showing his first meeting with Ramona. There is at once a feeling of interest noticeable between them which ripens into love. This Senora Moreno, her foster mother, endeavors to crush, with poor success, until she forces a separation by exiling Alessandro from the ranch. He goes back to his native village to find the white men devastating the place and scattering his people. The Senora, meanwhile, has told Ramona that she herself has Indian blood, which induces her to renounce her present world and go to Alessandro. They are married and he finds still a little shelter left from the wreckage. Here they live until the whites again appear and drive them off, claiming the land. From place to place they journey, only to be driven further until finally death comes to Alessandro just as aid comes in the person of Felipe, the Senora's son, who takes... Written by
Moving Picture World synopsis
Mary Pickford...as a Spanish-American Indian girl?!
This film is part of a DVD set entitled "Treasures III"--a set of four DVDs all about social issues and reform. The fourth disk (where you'll find this one) is about ethnic issues in particular.
In many ways, this film is reminiscent of the later film, THE SQUAW MAN as both are about people falling for and marrying Native-Americans--though in RAMONA, it involves a Spanish (not Mexican) lady and SQUAW MAN was an Englishman. In D.W. Griffith's own "special" way, he was trying to promote racial harmony and understanding--this, the same man who made BIRTH OF A NATION, a film that almost single-handedly was responsible for the rebirth of the KKK!! Oddly, RAMONA stars, of all people, Mary Pickford! At the time, he was one of Griffith's favorite stars, but she looked little like a Spaniard--even under the dark wig and makeup. Why he didn't get a woman who looked the ethnic part is odd considering this was a relatively expensive film when it was made. In 1936, the film was remade starring Loretta Young(!) in this role!! At least the 1928 version starred Delores Del Rio--a Mexican lady.
Ramona falls for an American-Indian, but is attacked by her family. Likewise, her love interest is also punished and he is eventually sent to a reservation. In an odd twist, Ramona learns that she, too, has American-Indian blood--thus making her love not so forbidden after all (and more palatable to the more racist elements seeing the film).
Now that she has chosen the Indian life, she sees how nasty persecution of her new people is by the Whites. She also needs to learn what it is like to live a simple life of poverty. This is a nice attempt by Griffith to promote better treatment for natives. Also, the film features some wonderful cinematography at this point in the film--with amazing vistas of the American West. Sadly, however, this is ruined by a goofy scene where her husband goes crazy and starts jumping about wildly. This is not one of silent film's best examples of acting. Subtle it ain't. And, to make it worse, after he collapses, Ramona herself collapses over the now dead body of her lover.
For 1910, this is very good stuff. Too bad that Griffith lost all the good will and karma he generated in this film with his later infamous BIRTH OF A NATION. Even INTOLERANCE (which followed BIRTH OF A NATION) couldn't do much to improve his image today. Most people just remember him for his Klan-loving mega-epic about the evils of letting Black people "out of their place". Ugghh!
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