Awakening of Helena Richie (1916)

Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Countries - USA  |  
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This picture, based on the novel by Margaret Deland, featured a narrative device considered novel at the time -- the fadeback, or as it's more commonly known today, the flashback, where past events are shown to clarify present situations and motivations. As motion picture companies discovered in the 1910s, this made picturization of a novel, with its complicated twists and turns, much easier to accomplish. It is the mid-19th century, and Helena Richie (Ethel Barrymore) is married to a drunken lout who kills their baby. No wonder she falls for the charms of Lloyd Pryor (Robert Cummings). She and Pryor go to the town of Chester, where she poses as his sister and adopts little orphan boy David (Maurice Stewart). But Helena's relations with Pryor are discovered, and the minister, who helped in the adoption, feels that she is not worthy to be the boy's mother. So Helena tells the minister why she wound up in Chester with Pryor, then prepares to give up the boy and leave. But the minister realizes that she's really guiltless in the situation, and the boy is restored to her.

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