The main story is based on a simple but powerful premise, as the doctor must make agonizing decisions between his duty as a physician and his loyalty to his own family. Many things work together to make it so effective. The cast (which includes early audience favorite Florence Lawrence as the doctor’s wife, and Mary Pickford in a smaller role) is pretty good, and the technique is quite refined for 1909. The cross-cutting at crucial points is particularly effective, as is the careful setup of several significant parallels.
Although many other film-makers of the era deserve to share the credit with Griffith for introducing and experimenting with the kinds of techniques that would soon become standard, this feature is a good example of why Griffith attained the kind of reputation that he had. It’s very carefully done, and it works well enough to remain effective even today. Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0000833/usercomments