Sunday, June 19, 2016

Silent Sundays: A Tale of Two Worlds (1921)

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Right off the bat I have to admit that I did not fully pay attention to A Tale of Two Worlds. I got the gist of it and then just kind of stopped paying great attention to it. What I was able to pay attention to seemed pretty good. Since I did not pay as much attention as I should have this Silent Sunday review is going to be short.
            The basic plot of the story is; a baby white girl is saved by a Chinese man named Ah Wing during the Boxer Rebellion. Ah Wing takes the baby girl and raises her as his own. He raises the baby as Chinese renaming her Sui Sen and bringing her to live in San Francisco.
            There is this sacred Chinese scepter that is very valuable. Everyone wants it including A Wing and a young American man named Robert Newcomb. Robert is an enthusiast of Asian objects and the culture. He meets Sui Sen and immediately falls in love with her and she does with him as well. Societal norms for both cultures at the time will not allow an Englishman and a Chinese woman to marry.
            Ah Wing is approached by the slave trader Ling Jo (Wallace Beery). He desires Sui Sen and makes a deal with her father for her. The deal is that if he can find the sacred scepter he will be able to marry Sui Sen. Ah Wing makes the deal because he figures men have tried to find the scepter for hundreds of years and no one has found it. Unfortunately, Ling Jo is able to locate the scepter and Ah Wing has to keep his word. But Ah Wing believes he has found a way out of this marriage agreement. Since there is such a divide between the Chinese and white people Ah Wing confesses that Sui Sen is not really Chinese and that he had saved her during the Boxer Rebellion. This does not keep Ling Jo from wanting to marry Sui Sen as Ah Wing would have thought.
            But as with most early films there is a happy ending. Robert somehow manages to save the day and once he finds out about Sui Sen really being white he is able to marry her.  

            What I was able to pay attention to with A Tale of Two Worlds was alright. I was not a fan of the plot too much. That may have had something to do with the fact that the actors playing these Chinese characters were actually white Americans and not Asian Americans (isn’t it sad that this is still an issue today in Hollywood?). The story moved a little slowly for me and after a while it could not hold my attention for very long. I have ADHD so when something does not hold my attention quick enough that is the end of my rope with whatever it is I should be paying attention to. I would say give A Tale of Two Worlds a chance if you are into silent films. Maybe you will be better able to pay attention to it than me.
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