The Capacity of Visions

Twixt Love and Ambition
D: Edwin August, Ormi Hawley, Buster Johnson, Jane Gail. P: Lubin Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: Library of Congress

“In this one-reel melodrama, a diva on the cusp of stardom must choose between love and her career. Part of the narrative of the film is told through letters between the two lovers, which we are meant to read on screen. Because of the loss of some footage, one or two of the inserts do not remain on the screen very long and it can be difficult to read them quickly enough to understand what they contribute to the story line.”
Betzwood Film Archive

“By 1912, filmmakers’ exploration of the capacity of visions to intensify depth of knowledge could result in complex representations of subjectivity. Twixt Love and Ambition (Lubin 1912) uses two visions to tell the story of a couple, John and Marie, whose relationship suffers because of her opera career. (…) At its simplest level, (the) second vision scene merely serves as a companion piece to the first, demonstrating that John occupies Marie’s thoughts, as she had his. But in the complexity of its representation, this second vision blurs the distinction between one character’s thoughts and another’s. (…) The sequence begins with a brooding Marie but ends with John in anguish; the use of a doubled vision indicates more than simple simultaneity and fluctuates between the consciousnesses of these two characters. (…) The oscillation between two states of mind depicted in this sequence of Twixt Love and Ambition perfectly embodies the sense of suspension signaled by the title.”
Charlie Keil: Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907–1913. University of Wisconsin Press 2001, p. 72-74

>>> Siegmund Lubin