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The Scarlet Letter
Directed by Victor Sjöström • 1926 • United States
Starring Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Henry B. Walthall
Lillian Gish gives one of her—and the silent cinema’s—greatest performances in this poetic adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel. She is the seventeenth-century New England seamstress Hester Prynne who, when her illicit affair with the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale (Lars Hanson) produces a child, bears her shame alone rather than expose the child’s father. The lyrical direction of Victor Sjöström and psychologically complex scripting of Frances Marion come together in a powerful parable of sin, guilt, and intolerance.