Analysis of D.W Griffith's 'the Girl and Her Trust'

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This essay analyses the narrative structure of D. W. Griffith’s short film ‘The Girl and Her Trust’. It explores how techniques such as editing, cinematography, performance and set design were used to tell a story through film that would not only be comprehensible but also appeal to the growing audience of the time. ‘The Girl and Her Trust’ was released in March of 1912, a period of great transition for the industry in which film was rapidly losing its novelty; “When production companies turned away from actualities toward story films, moviegoing became less a novelty and more a regular entertainment”.(McGraw, Hill, 1994:37) This surge in demand for story based motion pictures was due in part to the Nickelodeon boom that swept across America. Nickelodeons had the advantage of being “cheaper than vaudeville houses and more regularly available than traveling exhibitions”. (McGraw, Hill, 1994:37) However, early directors of the nickelodeon era struggled to tell a story in such a way that could be easily understood (McGraw, Hill, 1994:43). It soon became apparent that relying purely upon an actor’s performance to develop a narrative wouldn’t suffice: "Filmmakers provided few cues to guide the spectator through the action; there was little of the redundancy of narrative information which the classical cinema would habitually provide.” (Bordwell,Staiger, 1981:158) At the forefront of directors who were employing various techniques to resolve these issues was D. W. Griffith. (Barry, 2002:15) ‘The Girl and Her Trust’ (a remake of ‘The Lonedale Operator’) clearly demonstrates this. (Henderson, 1970:132) Despite their near identical storylines, ‘The Girl and Her Trust’ was widely considered by many at the time to be an improvement upon its predecessor: “a comparison quickly shows how far Griffith’s editorial and camera techniques have progressed.” - (Henderson,

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