The Enchanted Cottage (1924)

Article 2575 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-23-2008
Posting Date: 8-31-2008
Directed by John S. Robertson
Featuring Richard Barthelmess, May McAvoy, Ida Waterman
Country: USA

A young man whose body was twisted in the war isolates himself in a cottage. When an intrusive aunt threatens to move in with him, he marries an ugly girl to keep her away. The girl, unhappy because of her looks, nevertheless begins to love the man. Then, one day, they both see each other as transformed into beautiful people. But did it really happen, or was it just an illusion…?

As happy as I was to finally net a copy of this rare silent feature, I have to admit I was less than thrilled at the prospect of having to actually watch it; the 1945 remake always seemed phony and forced to me, and I didn’t expect that this one would be much better. On viewing it, though, I must admit that this one works much better. The story is more streamlined and less cluttered, so we remain focused on the characters, their situation, and, most of all, the extreme importance of the situation to them. Certain characters in the remake that came across as cloying and overly symbolic here have the breath of humanity, especially that of the blind man befriended by the couple. The fantastic content seems to be more prominent as well; we see the various couples who previously spent their honeymoons in the cottage as ghosts wandering the premises. Best of all, this version of the story doesn’t overplay its hand, and allows you to feel the emotions without trying to blatantly manipulate you every step of the way. As a result, I found myself actually moved by this one, and caught up in the lives of the characters.

So, if I ever want to see this story again, you can guess which version I’ll opt for, don’t you?


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