Plot: What’s it about?
Acadia is a peaceful little village in Nova Scotia, but as the residents soon learn, in times of war, everything changes. In this town lives Evangeline (Delores Del Rio), a beautiful young woman who is betrothed to Gabriel (Ronald Drew), whom she plans to marry very soon. But before the ceremony can be held, England and France declare war between them, which leaves Acadia in a bad situation. You see, they have allegiance with England and kinship with France, which means they have to choose a side in this conflict. But when they refuse to join in the war effort, they are forced to leave their homes and are deported, mostly to the United States. The village is soon burned down and all the residents sent away, as if the place never even existed. But even as Evangeline walks within a strange land, she knows she must her true love and marry him, no matter what hardships that might entail.
This disc is part of The Milestone Collection, which features various older films, all of which have been restored by the folks at UCLA’s Film and Television Archive. I’ve been fortunate to browse many titles in this series and on the whole, I’ve been very pleased with the entries. This installment proves to be no exception, as Evangeline is a very good flick that can now find a broad audience, just as it deserves. Based on the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline is a visually potent film with some terrific performances, especially from Dolores Del Rio. In the realm of silent cinema, visuals were very important and here, Del Rio projects a vision of beauty and grace, very memorable indeed. I don’t think this is a classic status film, but I was taken by it and as such, I think fans of classic and silent cinema would be well served to give this disc a look.
As I mentioned, the presence of Delores Del Rio is a memorable one and in truth, I think she is the main reason this picture works so well. Although the silent cinema limits her to visual graces, she delivers in that respect and then some. Of course, her good looks make her a treat to see in action, but she also uses some subtle body language to enhance her performance, which you have to like, I think. Even though this picture was earlier on in her career, Del Rio shines in Evangeline and of course, went on to many, many other powerful performances. You can also see Del Rio in such films as The Fugitive (1947), Portrait of Maria, The Bad One, The Red Dance, The Loves of Carmen (1927), and Wild Flower. The cast also includes Ronald Drew (I Was Framed, Law of the Tropics), Donald Reed (Darkest Africa, Six Gun Justice), and Alec B. Francis (The Sacred Flame, The Tender Hour).
Video: How does it look?
Evangeline is presented in a full frame transfer, which is the film’s intended aspect ratio. The restoration work done by UCLA’s Film and Television Archive is more than evident, as this is a superb looking presentation. The print looks very clean and shows minimal debris, I was very pleased and commend the team that saved this gem. The contrast is also well balanced, which means detail is always solid and black levels look accurate as well. A very nice presentation here, thanks to the restoration team and some good authoring work.
Audio: How does it sound?
As a silent film, this release has audio presence only from the musical score, which is presented here in mono form. I didn’t find much to complain about here, aside from a couple small, non distracting issues at times. As far as mono music tracks are concerned, this is a solid one and that leaves me to score this one well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.