Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Toll of the Sea (1922)

The Toll of the Sea was one of the earliest Technicolor films and the first to gain a general release. The story itself isn't that special, being a variation of the Madama Butterfly tale though set in China and covers pretty familiar ground. The film was Anna May Wong's first starring role.

So Chinese girl saves life of half-drowned American (Kenneth Harlan), they fall in love, though he then returns to America without her (heartbreak). Though they obviously did the deed as she has his child. Later on he returns to China, only with an American wife in tow (more heartbreak).

If the story isn't special the film itself looks amazing. It was once thought lost but was restored after being rediscovered in 1985. At times it is more like a painting than a film, the reds and greens of the Chinese costumes and gardens so vivid.