The Nihilist

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The most interesting aspect is the subject chosen: a woman joining the Nihilist movement as a reaction to police repression in Tsarist Russia. The film shows a clear empathy for terrorist action, which is an unusual theme in early cinema and shows the freedom which existed in American cinema at the time.

In the previous year, the same director and production company released a film that shows a clear empathy for armed resistance against a police attack, committed by producers/dealers of illegal recreational drugs: The Moonshiner. In both films, the title cards refer to the government undercover agent as a “spy” - thus making it clear where the viewer's sympathy should be directed.

Online: Internet Archive


The Moonshiner

Remember the last time you saw a movie in tribute to a heroic family man (and his gun-totin' wife) who made a clean living producing and selling illegal recreational drugs, until killed in a police raid? Well, if you missed that one, just turn your clock back to pre-Hollywood, and dig this sympathetic look at one of America's outlaw folk heroes (featuring an MMA-style fight scene!)