Natural Mother Experience in Film: a Brief Review of D W Griffith and the Grammar of Film Adoption

I’ve run short of time today, so to keep up the pace I’m posing here part of my study of adoption in film. This is first part of my longerl Where We Came From that I presented at the ASAC conference in Tampa in 2005, though this part was not included in the final draft. It stands on it’s own, though, there is much more to say about Griffith’s “bastard/adoption” work. ****** Many adoption films are family melodramas, and from the earliest films, the wronged woman and her child – wronged by husbands and fathers, parents, reformers or social workers – have been the subject of film. The study of American adoption film starts with D. W. Griffith. Griffith’s artistic view was more than loosely Victorian with values drawn from the antebellum South, theatrical melodrama, and Populist agrarianism. Griffith was a notorious melodramatist even when traditional melodrama was out of style; a non-Marxist advocate for the oppressed and powerless; an upholder of the bourgeois family as the ideal. He was against the forces of reform and the hypocritical “uplifters” whom he mercilessly attacked his films. The subject of many Griffith films is the interpersonal drama of the family within its Continue Reading →