Video transcript

Voiceover: D. W. Griffith was the most popular director of the silent era. During the year 1913, he made dozens of films. One of the films that is most important is "The Mothering Heart", starring Lillian Gish. She is a young bride and is rather victorian. She is trying to make her home comfortable and pleasing for her husband. At one point, she takes an interest in baby clothes. This is signaling to the audience that she's pregnant. Her husband is much more interested in the life in the city. (darker mood music) Along the way, he meets what is called an "idol lady", a very well-dressed young woman and they begin an affair. He comes home and he is obviously not satisfied with the lack of sophistication that his wife shows him. What is really fascinating about this film, is the way Lillian Gish's character transforms into a modern woman. She decides to leave, which is a very bold move for a young woman at that time. She goes back to live with her mother and has her baby. The husband comes running back to Lillian and she refuses to accept him. Unlike the idol woman, who has no sense of self, she is really a cipher to these men she meets. Lillian Gish's character finds this inner strength. She loses her husband, but what she does gain in this is this personal integrity. The cinema is no longer just entertainment. This is a way of learning.