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I love silent film. But if there’s one thing silent film was terrible at, it was adaptations of literary texts. Without words, it just wasn’t possible to tell stories of great complexity. Silent writers and directors came up with wonderful stories of their own that worked great with the limitations of the time. Yet adaptations like 1916’s Silas Marner, adapted from the George Eliot novel by Ernest C. Warde, were incredibly common. The only way this possibly works is if the general audience knows the source material really well. While I’m not going to claim knowledge of Progressive Era fiction reading habits, I’m thinking this is pretty unlikely. The story followed Silas (Frederick Warde) through his bitter life of getting screwed over by a friend who frames him for robbery and murder and forces his eviction from a Calvinist community to a hoarder of gold until it gets stolen by a rich guy to finding a random little girl that is well-explained in the novel, but just isn’t on the screen. I haven’t read the novel, but what I read about is that the redemption of the bitter character comes from the daughter he raises, but this gets about 4 minutes of screen time here.

3/10

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