10 August 2012

The Daughter of Dawn

The Daughter of Dawn (1920), a silent film long thought lost, was recently screened at the deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City, fully restored and with a new score.

Directed by Norbert Myles and produced by the Texas Film Company, The Daughter of Dawn is a love story that includes some standard movie fare—a chase scene, displays of bravery, a celebration, and, of course, a happy ending. But what makes this film so special is its all-Native American cast, uncommon today and unheard of during the silent era. Filmed in the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, the film features a cast of 300 Comanches and Kiowas including White Parker, the son of the Comanche leader Quanah Parker, as the lead, and tells the story of Native Americans with nary a cowboy or soldier in sight.

Like many stories about rediscovered silent films, this one has an intriguing back-story. In 2005, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art received a phone call from a private investigator in North Carolina claiming to own a silver nitrate copy of The Daughter of Dawn. Apparently a client had given it to him as part of his payment. The Oklahoma Historical Society was informed and set about obtaining and restoring the film with the help of a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Plans are under way to release the film on DVD and Blu-ray but for now here are the first ten minutes of the film—a fascinating glimpse of a true American story.

For more information, visit the Historical Society’s website here.

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