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Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  Way Down East
 
Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.
Way Down East
(1920)
 

This adaptation of the creaky, old melodrama, directed by D.W. Griffith, stars Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess, with Lowell Sherman, Burr McIntosh, Florence Short, Kate Bruce, Vivia Ogden, Porter Strong and Creighton Hale.

Kino Classics 2011 Blu-ray Disc edition

Way Down East (1920), color-toned black & white, 149 minutes, not rated.

Kino Lorber, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Pillarboxed 16:9 MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, one single-sided Blu-ray Disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard BD keepcase in cardboard slipcover, $34.95.
BD release date: 22 November 2011.
Country of origin: USA
This Blu-ray Disc edition of D.W. Griffith’s Way Down East (1920) is presented from the Museum of Modern Art 35mm restoration of the film, transferred in high-definition.

The film is accompanied by musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The supplemental section includes exerpts from the source play by Lottie Blair Parker, and the ice floe sequence from Edison’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1903).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Kino International 2008 DVD edition

Way Down East (1920), color-toned black & white, 149 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K640, UPC 7-38329-06402-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.95.
DVD release date: 18 November 2008.
Country of origin: USA
This edition of D.W. Griffith’s Way Down East (1920) is presented from the Museum of Modern Art 35mm restoration of the film, transferred in high-definition, with musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The supplemental section includes exerpts from the source play by Lottie Blair Parker, and the ice floe sequence from Edison’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1903).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Image Entertainment 1998 DVD edition

Way Down East (1920), color-toned black & white, 147 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID4677DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-46772-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered? DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, snapper DVD case, $29.99.
DVD release date: 1 December 1998.
Country of origin: USA
We have not viewed this disc, but we have viewed this full-frame transferred presentation in its laserdisc edition. Based on that quality of that laserdisc release, we recommend this DVD edition.

The film is accompanied by a modern music score.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Eureka Entertainment 2001 DVD edition

Way Down East (1920), color-toned black & white, 145 minutes, BBFC Classification U.

Eureka Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, £19.99.
DVD release date: 7 May 2001.
Country of origin: England
This high-quality PAL edition appears to be a British edition of the David Shepard-produced edition from Image noted above.

The film is likely accompanied by a modern music score.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Eureka Entertainment 2002 DVD edition

Way Down East (1920), color-toned black & white, 145 minutes, BBFC Classification U,
with The Birth of a Nation (1915), black & white and color-toned black & white, 189 minutes, BBFC Classification 15, Intolerance (1916), color-toned black & white, 177 minutes, BBFC Classification PG, Broken Blossoms (1919), black & white, 88 minutes, BBFC Classification 15, and Abraham Lincoln (1930), black & white, 94 minutes, BBFC Classification U.

Eureka Entertainment, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 PAL, four single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 2, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, four standard DVD keepcases, £49.99.
DVD release date: 24 June 2002.
Country of origin: England
This PAL boxset edition includes the above-noted Eureka edition of Way Down East, plus four other Griffith films from Eureka.

The film is likely accompanied by a modern music score.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2004 Alpha Video DVD edition

Way Down East (1920) [1930 rerelease version], black & white, 126 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Video, ALP 4513D, UPC 0-89218-45139-2.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $7.98.
DVD release date: 28 September 2004.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 4 / additional content: 1 / overall: 4.

This budget edition of Way Down East. from Alpha Video has been mastered from a 16mm reduction print of good quality, but the print is flat, with plugged shadows and grayed highlights, and has the usual problems of older 16mm prints: tight cropping, a slightly jittery picture, dust, speckling, print scratches, and soft image details. The dark full-frame, natural-speed video transfer is passable, and the disc’s video compression is higher than usual — that being the result of squeezing a film of this length onto a single layer DVD — resulting in some artifacts that will be seen by the eagle-eyed viewer, especially on an HD monitor. That being said, we have seen worse discs than this one. And, with a little adjustment of a television’s brightness and contrast controls, this edition is at very least watchable.

Alpha Video has taken the initiative on its 2004 releases of silent films (unheard of from other budget disc producers) to begin including custom music scores by Paul David Bergel. And while the synthesizer scores are not impressive (they sound like off-the-cuff improvizations), they are better than listening to cobbled-together music soundtracks taken from preexisting recordings.

If we were choosing an edition to purchase, we would of course choose the older Image edition above. If a collector is budget conscious, this edition (soft and dark as it is) is viewable.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
200? Reel Classic DVD edition

Way Down East (1920) [1928 rerelease version], black & white, 105 minutes, not rated.

Reel Classic DVD, no catalog number, no UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, PCM 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $20.00.
DVD release date: 200?
Country of origin: USA
This DVD-R edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print of the 1928 rerelease version.

The film is presented with an orchestral music score taken from the source print’s optical soundtrack.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc is available directly from REEL CLASSIC DVD.
Other silent era D.W. GRIFFITH films available on home video.

Other silent era LILLIAN GISH films available on home video.

Other silent era RICHARD BARTHELMESS films available on home video.
Lillian Gish filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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