This week I watched two more D.W. Griffith movies. Both forms of social commentary, but radically different from each other: Those Awful Hats and A Corner in Wheat. The first shows the early 19th century’s version of a “turn off your cell phones” theatre service announcement. Top hats and large, flowered, wide-brimmed numbers were apparently quite a problem for the average theatre-goer. And the punishment for not removing your hat? A large bucket-claw-thing will pick you up and physically remove you!
The special effects in this film are noteworthy. The film used a blue-screen-esque matte to give the effect of a projected film. A little rough, but extremely innovative.
The second film, A Corner in Wheat, takes on the more serious subject of proletarian poverty. Farmers are at the mercy of “The Wheat King” who pays the farmers less and less while driving up the prices of wheat for the shop owners. Though a serious look at poverty in the plain states, the film also has some funny moments. Those ladies with the giant flowered hats return to flirt it up with The Wheat King, only to find him moments later, drowned in a vat of falling wheat. Parallel editing makes this final scene absolutely fascinating.