Hiawatha (1913)

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In defiance of the monopolistic Motion Picture Patents Company, maverick producer Carl Laemmle set up his own firm, the Independent Motion Picture Company, better known as IMP. Laemmle's inaugural effort was a one-reel version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's narrative poem Hiawatha. The "shores of Gitcheegoomie" were re-created along the shores of Lake Michigan, and the large cast of characters in the original poem was boiled down to five principals. The film -- which began with Hiawatha plighting his troth to the beautiful Minehaha (played by future star Gladys Hullette) and ended with their marriage -- lost credibility early on when it became obvious that all the "Indians" were heavily-made up Caucasians; nor were the costumes, which were apparently designed to show off the heroine's feminine pulchritude, entirely authentic. Nonetheless, Hiawatha was enthusiastically booked by dozens of distributors, who had grown weary of the usurious tactics of the Patents Company, and laid the groundwork for Laemmle's future motion picture success, which shifted into full gear with the formation of Universal Pictures in 1912.



love, Native-American, romance