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What is the crowd, and what governs its actions? Who makes up the crowd? Is John a part of it? Is Bert? Are workers and bosses both equally part of the crowd? Are women part of the crowd?
The character of Mary is a funny paradox, vascillating between Victorian and modern womanhood, sometimes a True Woman, and sometimes modeling herself as a New Woman. Discuss Mary's identity. Which is she mostly? Why does she act like a New Woman, and what does she get for doing so? Compare her to the Lillian Gish character in The Birth of a Nation.
Much of The Crowd concerns paradigms of masculinity. What is it that makes a man a man in the world of this film? What manly characteristics make one stand out among the crowd? How does John Sims measure up as a man? In what ways can teh dramatic shape of the film be seen as a discourse on the significance of manliness in 1920s America? How would this story be told differently if it had been told by Mary, rather than John?
Is the story of John Sims a tragedy? How might it have been viewed by audiences then differently than we view it today?
Check out The Internet Movie Database pages for The Crowd.
Learn more about silent films and the study of film in general at the American Film Institute site.
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender courses in The Department of History, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York. Send email to email@example.com
Last modified: Friday 4 June 1999