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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Daughter of Dawn [Blu-ray]

 

(Norbert A. Myles, 1920)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Texas Film Company

Video: Milestone Films

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:18:40.875

Disc Size: 23,742,058,514 bytes

Feature Size: 15,913,954,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 19th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None (English Intertitles)

 

Extras:

• Introduction by Dr. Bob Blackburn (4:39)

• Finding the Film: (Bill Moore, Oklahoma Historical Society) (5:56)

• Heritage: Darren Twohatchet, Comanche (7:48)

Heritage: Dorothy Whitehorse: Kiowa (6:28)

• Magdalena Becker: (William D. Welge, Oklahoma Historical Society) (3:35)

• The Music Score: (Mark Parker, Oklahoma City, University School of Music) (3:52)

The Music Score: (Benjamin Nilles, Oklahoma City University Symphony) (3:02)

The Music Score: (John Cross, Oklahoma City, University School of Music) (3:50)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: THE DAUGHTER OF DAWN is an 80-minute, feature Silent film that was shot in May, June, and July of 1920 in the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma. The story, played by an all-Native American cast of 300 Kiowas and Comanches, includes a romantic rivalry, buffalo hunts, a battle, village scenes, dances, deceit, courage, hand-to-hand combat, and even a happy ending. The Native American actors, who in 1920 had been living on reservations for less than fifty years, brought with them their own tipis, horses, clothing, and material culture.

White Parker, the film’s male lead, and Wanada Parker, who appears in a supporting role, were two of the 25 children of legendary Comanche chief, Quannah Parker. Chief Parker has recently been profiled in two nonfiction bestsellers, S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Sun and Glenn Frankel’s The Searchers. Quannah Parker was a son of chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, who like the character in the John Ford movie, was kidnapped as a young girl and later married and identified as a Comanche.

The film was directed by a young director, Norbert Myles and written by Richard E. Banks who had spent 25 years living with various tribes. It is fascinating that, by accident or design, the film’s plot hinges on story on a very similar to Quannah Parker’s real encounter with his first wife.

Restored by the Oklahoma Historical Society, Film Technology (35mm) and Modern Videofilm (2K), THE DAUGHTER OF DAWN proves to be a revelation. Subtly acted by the all-Native American cast, photographed beautifully, and directed without melodrama by Myles, this lost Silent film stands with the best films of the period. Why it played only twice and was never officially released remains a mystery.

To accompany the restored film, composer David Yeagley wrote an original score that was performed by the Oklahoma City University Orchestra.

 

 

The Film:

On October 17, 1920, audience members at the College Theater in Los Angeles were treated to a “sneak preview” of a new movie — a drama featuring a cast entirely made up of Native Americans. Motion Picture News called it “an original and breath-taking adventure.” A year later, the film played in Topeka, Kansas to little fanfare — we only know about the engagement because the theater placed a few small ads in a local newspaper. These two showings are the only known screenings of THE DAUGHTER OF DAWN, a large-scale production of Comanche and Kiowa life created by Norbert Myles and the Texas Film Company. After that, the film disappeared for nearly a century—without a trace.

Cinema, the twentieth century’s great art form, proved to be a powerful means for preserving history even as it also perpetuated myths and stereotypes. Although fascinated with images of the “wild west,” very few Silent films ever attempted to capture Native American life with the active participation of tribe members. Instead, most films set in the west were centered on white settlers, cowboys and soldiers and Native Americans characters were often played by white actors. But the few films that were created with the cooperation of tribal members, such as In the Land of the Head Hunters [which Milestone will be releasing in a brand-new restoration in 2013] and The Silent Enemy remain invaluable documents of KwaKwaka’wakw and Ojibway life. Alhough created by white filmmakers for general release, these films recorded legends and cultural history as handed down by tribal elders.

But time has not been kind to Silent cinema. Only 78% of films made before 1929 still exist and independent films were especially vulnerable to destruction and loss. So it was a lucky day when a private detective who had received some nitrate film reels in exchange for payment contacted Brian Hearn at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. It turned out that his “fee” was an incredibly rare film, THE DAUGHTER OF DAWN, previously known only through articles and photos from the 1920s and a copy of the script at the Library of Congress. And miraculously, the film was complete and in excellent condition. The Oklahoma Historical Society with assistance of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian then acquired the precious film and set out to restore it.

Excerpt from Milestonne located HERE

The film features an "all-Indian cast...shot in Indian Country", with over 300 people from the Comanche and Kiowa tribes acting in the film, including White and Wanada Parker, children of Quannah Parker. The cast wore their own clothing and brought their own personal items, including tepees. The film features the "Tipi with Battle Pictures", which is a tepee in the collection of the Oklahoma Historical Society. There are lances and tomahawks in the film which represent honors earned in war by the Kiowa. Daughter of Dawn was filmed in May, June and July 1920. The filming took place in the Wichita Mountains.

The Daughter of Dawn was one of many docudramas that tended to romanticize Native American culture and lifestyle during the early 1910s and '20s. Other films of the period that boasted of all-Indian casts included In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914); Hiawatha (1913), shot by F.E. Moore's production company; The Vanishing Race, a 1917 film made by the Edison Studios; and Before the White Man Came (1920), which employed Crow Indians and Cheyenne Indians as actors.

The film score was never completed.

Excerpt from Wikipedia located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Daughter of Dawn restoration, by the Oklahoma Historical Society, Film Technology (35mm) and Modern Videofilm (2K), had made it to Blu-ray transfer from Milestone Films. This is single-layered but the 78-minute film is supported by the transfer. There is obvious damage (see last capture as sample) but nothing continuous and there are moments of impressive detail. It's quite bright but the contrast layering benefits the presentation and it looks pleasing in-motion, all things considered. The Blu-ray presentation gives us the cleanest and most impressive viewing experience we are likely to get on home theater. Great job Milestone!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Damage

 

 

Audio :

Milestone use a linear PCM track for composer David Yeagley's original score performed by the Oklahoma City University Orchestra. It sounds very strong and beautifully supports the film. The intertitles are in English (see sample.) My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

They are eight video feature supplements (most less than 5-minutes) starting with an introduction by Dr. Bob Blackburn, Finding the Film: with Bill Moore of Oklahoma Historical Society, Comanche Darren Twohatchet, Kiowa Dorothy Whitehorse, William D. Welge of The Oklahoma Historical Society and three pieces on the musical score. All extremely informative and only enhance the appreciation of the viewing experience.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I really got into the my viewing of The Daughter of Dawn. Learning the history helps you embrace the historical significance of what you are seeing. It can be so fascinating watching this form of history captured on film - and it's almost 100 years old! Although rarely my first choice for cinema - I'm grateful that companies like Milestone release Silents like this on Blu-ray. It exposes me to a rarely seen genre that can be quite daunting when you grasp the significance. We absolutely recommend! 

Gary Tooze

July 1st, 2016

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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