Fools of Fate (D.W. Griffith, 1909, USA)

Fools of Fate (1909) is another early D.W. Griffith short made for Thomas Edison's Biograph company. At this point, Griffith was churning out hundreds of films per year for Biograph, and so there is a formulaic quality to most of them. That said, Fools of Fate has a few interesting things going on it. The film was co-written with Griffith by Frank E. Woods, who collaborated on most of Griffith's shorts and feature films. Also joining this film was another Griffith regular - Billy Blitzer. Blitzer pioneered and invented so many cinematic techniques that it is hard to count them all - the fade-out, the iris close, soft focus, artificial lighting, and matte photography, among others.

The film is a love-triangle melodrama. Fanny is the wife of Ben Webster, a trapper. Ben goes out on a hunt, and while he is out on a lake, his boat capsizes. Another trapper, Ed Hilton, saves Ben from drowning, and the two make a vow of eternal friendship. Fanny soon meets Ed Hilton and is enraptured with him. She soon leaves Ben, and Ben seeks revenge. When he discovers that Fanny is with Ed, he cannot kill the man who saved his life, so he turns the gun on himself. Certainly, Fools of Fate is one of the earliest representations of a love triangle, as well as a suicide, in film. The film is notable for its lighting choices, including the use of outdoor settings and natural light. Griffith and his team here were also experimenting with showing the same set under different lighting conditions to convey different expressions of mood. While the narratives were still be improved, there is more focus on the inner lives of the characters, and attempting to express their inner desires. In other words, to make them more than just archetypes. 


6/10

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