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HISTORY

This was the first film presentation of Ramona. For information on other adaptations of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, please consult the entry for the 1936 Twentieth Century-Fox release Ramona.
       The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “This film follows an historical incident and concerns a white man’s inhumanity to the California Indians. The director moved his camera, changing the composition from a close-up of the lead actress to a dramatic scene of the actors on a hilltop, a movement motivated by the terror in the valley below. This film in the Library of Congress Biograph collection has a title preceding the picture giving credit to the author of the book. The film also identifies the location as one of those mentioned by the author of Ramona. Biograph paid Little, Brown and Company $100 for rights to use the story.”
       The 4 Jun 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “An adequate dramatization of Helen Hunt Jackson’s most romantic novel. Recent years little has been heard of the book, but thirty years ago it was one of the most popular novels of the day. It was written primarily to show the injustice of the white man to the Indian and was very romantic. The picture follows the novel closely, going as far as to reproduce the actual scenery where the story was laid, a picturesque town in Ventura County, California. The love story loses nothing of its power in the picture, and one wants to do something to help the unfortunates whose property is destroyed, whose land is taken ... More Less

This was the first film presentation of Ramona. For information on other adaptations of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, please consult the entry for the 1936 Twentieth Century-Fox release Ramona.
       The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “This film follows an historical incident and concerns a white man’s inhumanity to the California Indians. The director moved his camera, changing the composition from a close-up of the lead actress to a dramatic scene of the actors on a hilltop, a movement motivated by the terror in the valley below. This film in the Library of Congress Biograph collection has a title preceding the picture giving credit to the author of the book. The film also identifies the location as one of those mentioned by the author of Ramona. Biograph paid Little, Brown and Company $100 for rights to use the story.”
       The 4 Jun 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “An adequate dramatization of Helen Hunt Jackson’s most romantic novel. Recent years little has been heard of the book, but thirty years ago it was one of the most popular novels of the day. It was written primarily to show the injustice of the white man to the Indian and was very romantic. The picture follows the novel closely, going as far as to reproduce the actual scenery where the story was laid, a picturesque town in Ventura County, California. The love story loses nothing of its power in the picture, and one wants to do something to help the unfortunates whose property is destroyed, whose land is taken and who are persecuted and driven ever farther into the wilderness. It is too late now for the reproduction of the novel to exert any influence in the rectification of a great wrong. But perhaps it will be worth while to show thus graphically the injustice which preceded the settlement of a considerable proportion of the United States. Sympathetically acted, with unusually romantic scenery for a background and photographed with a full appreciation of the beauties of the drama and the setting, the picture will linger long in the memory, as many another of the Biograph films has done heretofore.”
       An article in the 29 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World, titled “Biograph Company Migrates to the Land of Sunshine and Flowers,” noted that the Biograph Company, with Lawrence Griffith (one of D. W. Griffith’s pseudonyms) as director-in-chief, had arrived in Los Angeles, CA, on 19 Jan 1910, joining two other migrating film operations, the Selig Company and the New York Motion Picture Company (Bison).
       An advertisement in the 28 May 1910 Moving Picture World explained the background of the film: “There are few American novels better known than ‘Ramona’….By arrangement with Little, Brown & Co., the publishers, the Biograph has adapted it to motion pictures. Making a trip to Camulos, Ventura County, Cal., the production was made at identical locations wherein Mrs. Jackson placed her characters. The house in which Ramona lived, with its vine-clad verandas and inner courts; the little chapel and the bells from old Spain are all as Mrs. Jackson saw them, producing the effect of absolute authenticity that is unprecedented.” Two weeks earlier, an article called “Realism in Moving Pictures” in the 14 May 1910 Moving Picture World had elaborated on director D.W. Griffith’s attention to detail: “There are some genre moving pictures that can be well executed in a studio from suitable models, but there are certain subjects that should not be attempted without the atmosphere and realism of the natural scenery. Many more or less successful attempts have been made to illustrate popular novels or historical events by means of the motion picture. Needless to say that realism in work of this kind can only be obtained by going to the locations described, regardless of the expense or inconveniences. And this is what the Biograph Company has done in the making of a film that will be seen on the screen in about another week. It is an illustration of the story of ‘Ramona,’ by Helen Jackson….Her story is intensely interesting and it contains many dramatic episodes that would have been seized upon by the average producer to make one of those Wild Western thrillers with plenty of action and no motive. Not so the Biograph artist [D. W. Griffith, who like other directors at that time were usually nameless in the trade press]. He interprets the true spirit of the book and merely uses certain incidents to bring out the ill-treatment the Indian has received at the hands of the white settlers. It is not a Biograph masterpiece, but it comes very near to being pictorially perfect. The scenes are laid around the actual places selected by the authoress of the story. The Biograph Company climbed into the mountains of Camulos to show the bleak and bare regions into which the Indians were driven to starve or exist by stealing. The artistic quality of these pictures is splendid.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BIOB2
p. 197.
BPL
pp. 126-127.
EMP
pp. 267-268.
LCMP
p. 50, column 1.
LCPP
p. 210.
Moving Picture News
4 Jun 1910
p. 22tl.
Moving Picture News
24 Dec 1910
p. 5ar.
Moving Picture News
21 Oct 1916
Section 2, p. 55, 94
Moving Picture World
29 Jan 1910
p. 120.
Moving Picture World
14 May 1910
p. 775ar.
Moving Picture World
28 May 1910
p. 896tl, 897ts, 898ta, 902tl.
Moving Picture World
4 Jun 1910
p. 933ar, 942tr.
The Daily Worker
p. 80.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (Boston, 1884).
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 May 1910
Copyright Claimant:
Biograph Co.
Copyright Date:
26 May 1910
Copyright Number:
J141683
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
995
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“There are few American novels better known than the story of ‘Ramona’ by Helen Jackson. Intensely thrilling without sensationalism, it most graphically illustrates the white man’s injustice to the Indian. It is a romance with a deep motive, told with such sympathetic tenderness that the reader longs to visit the scenes wherein lived the simple, patient Ramona and the noble-hearted Alessandro, as described by Mrs. Jackson. Realizing what a gratification, both recreative and instructive, the depicting of this famous novel, with absolute authenticity, would be to the patron of motion pictures, the Biograph Company made the journey to Camulos, Ventura County, California, where were found the identical locations and buildings wherein Mrs. Jackson placed her characters. The house wherein Ramona lived with its vine-clad verandas; the inner court, which is a veritable paradise, the little chapel amid the trees, the huge cross, and the bells from old Spain are all apparently just as Mrs. Jackson saw them, and while the very air breathes romance there is a pious solemnity about the place that is awe-inspiring. The production adheres closely to the novel, showing the experiences of Ramona, the little orphan of the great Spanish household of Moreno, and Alessandro, the Indian. It opens with his arrival at the Camulos ranch with his sheep-shearers, showing his first meeting with Ramona. There is at once a feeling of interest noticeable between them which ripens into love. This Senora Moreno, her foster mother, endeavors to crush, with poor success, until she forces a separation by exiling Alessandro from the ranch. He goes back to his native village to find the white men devastating the place and scattering his people. The Senora, meanwhile, ... +


“There are few American novels better known than the story of ‘Ramona’ by Helen Jackson. Intensely thrilling without sensationalism, it most graphically illustrates the white man’s injustice to the Indian. It is a romance with a deep motive, told with such sympathetic tenderness that the reader longs to visit the scenes wherein lived the simple, patient Ramona and the noble-hearted Alessandro, as described by Mrs. Jackson. Realizing what a gratification, both recreative and instructive, the depicting of this famous novel, with absolute authenticity, would be to the patron of motion pictures, the Biograph Company made the journey to Camulos, Ventura County, California, where were found the identical locations and buildings wherein Mrs. Jackson placed her characters. The house wherein Ramona lived with its vine-clad verandas; the inner court, which is a veritable paradise, the little chapel amid the trees, the huge cross, and the bells from old Spain are all apparently just as Mrs. Jackson saw them, and while the very air breathes romance there is a pious solemnity about the place that is awe-inspiring. The production adheres closely to the novel, showing the experiences of Ramona, the little orphan of the great Spanish household of Moreno, and Alessandro, the Indian. It opens with his arrival at the Camulos ranch with his sheep-shearers, showing his first meeting with Ramona. There is at once a feeling of interest noticeable between them which ripens into love. This Senora Moreno, her foster mother, endeavors to crush, with poor success, until she forces a separation by exiling Alessandro from the ranch. He goes back to his native village to find the white men devastating the place and scattering his people. The Senora, meanwhile, has told Ramona that she herself has Indian blood, which induces her to renounce her present world and go to Alessandro. They are married and he finds still a little shelter left from the wreckage. Here they live until the whites again appear and drive them off, claiming the land. From place to place they journey, only to be driven further until finally death comes to Alessandro just as aid comes in the person of Felipe, the Senora’s son, who takes Ramona back to Camulos.”—28 May 1910 Moving Picture World
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.