Hearts of the World

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Hearts of the World
Hearts of the World poster.jpg
Hearts of the World lobby poster
Directed by D.W. Griffith
Produced by D.W. Griffith
Starring Lillian Gish
Dorothy Gish
Ben Alexander
Robert Harron
Mary Harron
Sir Edward Grey
Erich von Stroheim
John Harron1
Noël Coward1
Note 1:uncredited
Cinematography Billy Bitzer
Edited by Rose Smith,
James Smith
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • March 12, 1918 (1918-03-12)
Running time 2 hours, 32 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

Hearts of the World (1918) is a silent film directed by D. W. Griffith, a wartime propaganda classic that was filmed on location in Britain and near the Western Front, made at the request of the British Government to change the neutral mindset of the American public.[citation needed]


Photo taken during filming of the "Hearts of the World" in France. D. W. Griffith is in the photo in civilian clothing.

Two families live next to one another in a French village on the eve of World War I. The Boy in one of the families falls for the only daughter in the other family. As they make preparations for marriage, World War I breaks out, and, although the Boy is American, he feels he should fight for the country in which he lives.

When the French retreat, the village is shelled. The Boy's father and the Girl's mother and grandfather are killed. The Girl, deranged, wanders aimlessly through the battlefield and comes upon the Boy badly wounded and unconscious. She finds her way back to the village where she is nursed back to health by The Little Disturber who had previously been a rival for the Boy's affections. The Boy is carried off by the Red Cross. Von Strohm, a German officer, lusts after the Girl and attempts to rape her, but she narrowly escapes when he is called away by his commanding officer.

Upon his recovery, the Boy, disguised as a German officer, infiltrates the enemy-occupied village, finds the Girl. The two of them are forced to kill a German sergeant who discovers them. Von Strohm finds the dead sergeant and locates the Boy and Girl who are locked in an upper room at the inn. It's a race against time with the Germans trying to break the door down as the French return to retake the village. [1]


lobby card

Lillian Gish, actress playing 'The Girl', later said:[2]

"'Hearts of the World' enjoyed great success until the Armistice when people lost interest in war films. The film inflamed audiences. Its depiction of German brutality bordered on the absurd. Whenever a German came near me, he beat me or kicked me."

She also noted that:

"I don't believe that Mr. Griffith every forgave himself for making 'Hearts of the World.' 'War is the villain,' he repeated, 'not any particular people.'"

Some historians have also noted that Hearts of the world and similar films encouraged a 'hysterical hatred' of the enemy which complicated the task of the Versailles peacemakers.[3]

In a scene cut from the movie, actress Colleen Moore appeared as a little girl in her bed who, hearing the war raging beyond her window, was so frightened that she turned the hands of her alarm clock forward, hoping that time would rush forward to the end of the fighting.[4]

See also[edit]

(World War I Propaganda films)


  1. ^ Review and synopsis "A cinema history". Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  2. ^ What others said about "Hearts of the World" (from the 'Silents Are Golden' silent movies website. Retrieved 2007-08-16.)
  3. ^ First World War - Willmott, H.P., Dorling Kindersley, 2003, Page 263
  4. ^ Colleen Moore, Silent Star (1968)

External links[edit]