The Red Man and the Child (1908)

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Biograph's The Redman and the Child was historically important for two reasons; it was the second film directorial effort of D.W. Griffith, and the first of Griffith's films to be reviewed in the pages of the trade magazine Variety. Even at this early stage of his career, Griffith's superiority over his fellow filmmakers was recognized by the trade press. Variety in particular applauded the "photographic excellence" in this tale about an old Indian who befriends an elderly white miner and the miner's grandson. In the Indian's absence, the miner and the boy are set upon by thieves; the old man is killed, and the boy is held captive by the villains, who try to force the kid to reveal the whereabouts of the miner's gold. Meanwhile, the Indian has been hired to guide a group of pioneers through the mountains. Witnessing the old man's murder from a distance (a beautifully composed "long shot"), the Indian rushes off to rescue the boy -- which he does, after an exciting canoe chase across New Jersey's Passaic River. Charles Inslee plays the noble "Redman" in this, the first of several Griffith films to boast a Native American hero.

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captive, friendship, grandson, guide, kidnapping, mine, murder, Native-American, rescue, robbery, witness