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Broken Blossoms

(silent 1919 b 90')

En: 5 Ed: 6

A Chinese Buddhist moves to London to teach peace, and he helps the daughter of a prize-fighter who beats her.

At a Chinese port Cheng Huan (Richard Barthelmess) visits a Buddhist temple. Cheng tells American sailors that the Buddha teaches the golden rule, but they fight. Cheng goes abroad to spread the Buddha's message.

Cheng becomes a storekeeper in London, but he goes to a house of sin where he smokes and gambles. Lucy Burrows (Lillian Gish) was brought up by Battling Burrows (Donald Crisp) in Limehouse. Burrows is a boxer. A married woman warns Lucy not to get married, and prostitutes tell her to avoid their profession. Burrows drinks and bullies Lucy.

A missionary is going to China, and he gives Cheng a book on hell. Despite her miserable condition, Cheng sees Lucy's beauty. The Evil Eye (Edward Peil) sees her too. Burrows drinks in a pub. Lucy offers tin foil for a flower, but it is not enough. Reprimanded by his manager, Burrows comes home angry. As Lucy serves his dinner, he gets his hand in the way. He whips her and goes out.

Lucy collapses in Cheng's store. He treats her wounds with tenderness and takes care of her. He gives her a magical robe that brings out her beauty. Cheng kisses her hand and calls her White Blossom. The spying one (George Beranger) comes to the store. While Cheng goes out to get change, he discovers Lucy is upstairs. The spying one tells training Burrows about Lucy. Burrows hates foreigners.

Lucy postpones going home, and Burrows waits until his boxing match that night. Cheng gazes at Lucy and kisses her hand. Burrows wins the fight and finds no one at home. Cheng goes out. Burrows goes to the store and finds Lucy in bed upstairs. He is overcome by rage, but she says she did nothing wrong. Burrows tells her to change clothes, and she does. Burrows smashes up the place. The Evil Eye sees and tells Cheng. Lucy runs out, but Burrows grabs her and takes her home.

Cheng sees the mess and finds the robe. Lucy goes into a closet and warns Burrows he will be hanged. He uses a hatchet to break down the door. Lucy pleads, but Burrows whips her again. In bed dying Lucy tries to smile. Cheng comes in the window and finds her dead. Burrows sees Cheng. When Burrows reaches for the hatchet, Cheng shoots him. Cheng carries Lucy away, and two men find Burrows and report it to the police. Cheng lays Lucy on his bed with the robe and flowers. The police discover Burrows is dead. Cheng kneels by Lucy and stabs himself.

In this drama set during the Great War when Europeans were killing thousands of people every day, an Asian tries to bring peaceful teachings to western civilization. The tragedy results from the ignorant violence of an arrogant man.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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