Filmsite Movie Review
The Wind (1928)
Pages: (1) (2)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

The Awkward Wedding Night:

Left alone for the first time since their marriage, naive bride Letty was nervous and paralyzed with fear, while Lige was giiddy with anticipation and excitement. He gently removed her flowery bonnet, spun it around, and tossed it onto a hat rack. He tentatively tried to take her in his arms, but she was unresponsive - it was clear that she had no love for him. To ingratiate himself to her, he repeated or imitated Roddy's familiar sweeping motions of wiping sand away from his sleeve and from her dress. He was anxious to kiss her:

You've been my wife a whole hour - and I ain't kissed you yet!

He awkwardly took her face in his hands and kissed her, but his kiss was unreciprocated and he couldn't understand why she remained cold, distant, aloof, and repulsed:

Guess you ain't much of a kisser - are you?

He tried a second kiss, but her response remained unchanged. She made an effort to show some attraction to him and returned his kiss, but it was very brief and completely emotionless.

In his two-room shack, he showed her the bedroom by moving her luggage next to the double-bed, where he wiped a heavy layer of dust and sand from the pillows. Behind the closed door while she freshened up and let her hair down, he decided to make her feel welcome by brewing up a cup of coffee in the rustic kitchen.

The scene cross-cut between the two - as their awkward, dysfunctional and uncomfortable wedding night commenced - it was another stark night of wind - and unconsummated sexuality between them:

  • she let down her hair
  • he began to prepare coffee in the kitchen
  • she emptied the small dresser's wash-basin of accumulated sand
  • in an exterior view, she listened as the sand swirled around outside the structure (a symbol of their conflicting forces)
  • he entered the room and offered her a cup of coffee; they sat together on the bed as he held out the sugar bowl and she scooped a large amount of sugar into her cup
  • when he wasn't looking, she poured out the foul-tasting coffee into her water pitcher
  • he enthusiastically told her: "Lemme get you some more!"
  • she began combing her hair to keep preoccupied, and to get him to leave
  • he allowed her more privacy by marching out of the room
  • she attempted to block the door's keyhole

Their frustrated, confused and insecure emotions were conveyed with mirrored or complementary camera shots of each of them pacing in different rooms of the shack - there were shots of her feet and his cowboy boots - as the wind continued to howl, gust and pound the cabin from the outside with gritty sand. Now alone and stifling her abject terror, Letty was separated and isolated from her new and strange husband whom she obviously didn't love. He demonstrated his sexual frustrations by kicking one of the coffee cups across the floor.

Determined to make their marriage work, Lige decided to confront Letty directly. Seen only from boot level, he advanced back toward the room, flung open the door, strode in and stood next to her. As he approached closer, her feet also stepped backward. And then, the camera switched to a medium shot of Lige demandingly and forcefully grabbing Letty for a violent kiss. She broke away, wiped her mouth in hateful disgust, and sneered at him:

You've made me hate you! Oh, Lige - I didn't want to hate you!

He was astounded by her blasted words of contempt - he suddenly realized his inner-most suspicions - her marriage to him was one of convenience and need and not because of love. She had used him because she had no other choice. He honorably vowed to never touch her again or make advances toward her - and promised that once he had saved enough money, he could afford to send her away from him forever, possibly back to Virginia:

I thought you'd married me to be my wife - - work with me - - love me - - ! Don't be afraid - I'll never touch you again - Somehow - - I'll get money enough to send you away - - !

By happenstance, he looked into the water pitcher on the dresser and saw her disposed coffee there, realizing that she had deceived him. He sighed, took one last look at her, and left the room with calm dignity and respect. She hid her face in her hands, began to sob in despair, but then was distracted when she heard the iincessant sounds of the wind outside. In the other room, Lige sat brooding at the kitchen table.

Letty and Lige - Married Life Truce:

An inter-title described the futility and monotony of married life for them from now on - they would live together during a marital truce, separated from each other emotionally, spiritually, and physically:


The next morning, from a low-angle shot, Lige's boots exited from the front door (he momentarily dropped his cowboy hat), as nearby, Letty was sweeping the dust and sand on their wooden floor with a broom. Living a life of imposed solitude and loneliness, she glanced out the front window at a group of other ranchers gathered on horseback. Lige had been invited to join the ranchers: "We're on our way to a meetin' of the cattlemen. Something's got to be done to save us all from starvation." Lige briefly returned into the cabin - allowing a blast of dust to enter - to get his jacket before riding off with the cattlemen. She begged to not be left alone - terrified and fearing what Roddy had earlier warned her about:

Take me with you, Lige - I'll go mad here - alone with that wind -

He agreed to take her along - she rushed to the bedroom for her cloak and bonnet, followed after him out the front door, and happily (and voluntarily) entered the "domain of the winds" - as the first inter-title of the film had stated. In the fierce winds that were blowing, her cloak fluttered around, she couldn't control her horse (it ran off in the opposite direction), and she straggled behind the rest of the group. Lige pursued her runaway horse, and then transferred her to the back of his horse. But then another catastrophe happened - she fell off Lige's horse when the horse bucked her. There was no other alternative but to have Sourdough take her back home ("You'll have to take Letty back to the ranch, Sourdough!"). Lige gave her his scarf-bandana to use as a face mask.

During their continuing trip, a close-up shot of carrion (dead cattle from starvation?) on the open prairie amongst a cattle herd foreshadowed future death. Lige looked toward the horizon with his binoculars and then predicted a major weather phenomenon to the others:

Them wild hosses is workin' their way down - like they was expectin' a norther - !

Lige suggested a way for the cattlemen to raise money - he convinced his fellow ranchers to brave a norther' and round up mustangs to sell to the U.S. government:

We could corral them on the prairie - if you-all's got guts to round 'em up in the norther! Government's payin' three dollars a head for 'em - !

Back at Sweet Water Ranch - An Injured Man:

After returning with Letty to the ranch, Sourdough stood at the window and sang a western tune - with ominous predictive meaning:

Oh, bury me not on the lone prai-rie.
Where the wild coyotes will howl over me!
In a narrow grave just six by three.
Oh, bury me not on the lone prai-rie.

He also reiterated his belief that the norther' winds were coming - and tied the winds' arrival to the ghostly image of the devilish white stallion:

This sure is norther weather! When that Satan hoss o' the Injuns starts to snort - ! - you'll think all the winds in heaven is havin' a screechin' contest!

The scene dissolved to Letty's petrified, nightmarish, hallucinatory fears of the oncoming, outdoor raging sandstorm - symbolized by a brief dreamy, ghostly (double-exposure) sight - superimposed over Letty - of a powerful white stallion (against a black background). The snorting horse was brilliantly white and galloping straight ahead.

Suddenly, as Letty appeared dazed and dizzy, another rancher-cattleman entered, with news that an injured man was being brought to the house: "Someone's hurt - - they're bringing him in - - !" Sourdough was aggravated by the blowing wind when he threw some sand out the front door, but more sand blew in at the same time. Outdoors, the wounded man was wrapped in a blanket, and Letty became momentarily fearful that it was Lige ("It's Lige!") when the unidentified male was carried in and laid on a bed. She knelt by the bed-side, fearing the worst (and truly caring about her husband), but when she uncovered the body, she was horrified to discover it was Roddy. When Lige arrived a few seconds later, Sourdough expressed his disgust at the recuperating, unwanted individual:

I'd jest as soon entertain a skunk in my front parlor!

Lige borrowed Sourdough's glass flask of whiskey and gave Roddy a few sips to revive him. Roddy opened his eyes and smiled at Letty, then turned his gaze to the left toward Lige, who described his rescue: "I happened to run acrost you on my way home." Exhausted and in pain, Roddy covered his face with his right hand, as Letty inquired about the man's recovery:

Letty: He's not going to stay here - is he?
Lige: He'll have to - where else can he go?

It was an ironic response - now Lige had two individuals in his company that he was caring for - with nowhere else to go.

Unwanted Advances:

As Letty looked down at Roddy, she imagined (in a brief dissolve) that Roddy revived and turned toward her with a sadistic, leering smile. She was horrified by the lascivious look that he gave her (in her fantasy). Then as she reacted with stunned silence, the film cut away again to a sight of the sand relentlessly and violently blowing against the shack's exterior before a fade to black.

In the next sequence, Letty stood before a flowering hedge, wearing a spring dress and a wide-brimmed summery hat. Then, the image transitioned (through a dissolve) to a scary close-up view of two eyeballs looking through a stereoscope's viewer. In the next shot after another dissolve, it was revealed in a medium shot that the person using the stereoscope was Roddy - he was smiling to himself after viewing the previous stereoscope image of Letty in her flowery dress. She was nearby in the kitchen, washing dishes in a tub full of sand. Roddy watched her, and then asked if she remembered his warning given to her on the train about the effect the winds had - mostly on women:

Roddy: Were you afraid to have Lige leave us alone - ? (She nervously looked at him and resumed cleaning)
Roddy: The last time I saw you, I told you what the wind 'ud do to you! (She grasped at her hair)
Letty: (glaring back at him and protesting) I'm not afraid of the wind - I - I - like it!

But then she revealed her underlying neurotic anxieties when she glanced out the window at the impending and threatening norther' (a catastrophic hybrid of wind and blowing sand), and how she was trapped with him inside the house. She approached closer to the window (the light was darkened by the particulates in the air), peered upwards at the sky filled with dark clouds (an exterior camera angle also showed her looking up on the inside of the window), and then turned toward Roddy as he grasped her hand. He menacingly loomed over her as the interior of the cabin turned quite dark, until she lit the table's lantern.

He advanced on her again and grabbed her wrists, as she looked for a way to escape from his imprisoning embrace. Since the wind seemed to be driving her mad, he played on her fears of insanity. He begged her to leave with him, and implied that he would safely take her home to Virginia ("It'll soon be spring in Virginia - think of the fields, all thick with wild violets - "). She was saved from his unwanted attention by the arrival of Lige and Sourdough on horseback. When Lige entered the front door, the frightened Letty was so relieved by his presence that she threw her arms around him.

The Arrival of the Norther Winds - the Violent Rape Assault, Homicide, and Cover-Up:

Lige announced that the weather was changing and that the norther' was expected soon. He emphatically stated that he needed every man available to take part in the wild horse round-up - even Roddy now that he had recovered:

- - old norther's here! Hosses are comin' down from the mountains in thousands - - ! (To Roddy) Every man's needed for the round up!

As both Lige and Roddy headed out, Letty stopped her husband, grabbed him by his coat collar, and pleaded with him to stay, but he declined her urgent request: ("It's my one chance, Letty, o' gettin' money to send you back"). But then he risked her rejection (and the violation of his vow to never advance on her again) by kissing her - and she readily accepted his act of affection. She ran after him through the front door directly into a violent blast of sandy dust as he rode off with two others. She yelled his name and called out for him, but her voice was drowned out by the wind. She stumbled back inside the empty house, as the wind and dust continued to assault the wooden structure. The scene faded to black.

Out on the prairie, the cattlemen assembled and then charged toward the hundreds of mustangs fleeing the norther' winds, to round them up. The group disappeared in the distance into the thick congested air with poor visibility. At the back of the group, Roddy paused and then turned back - to ride in the opposite direction and sneak back to the house to torment Letty.

Inside the house, Letty was crouched into a fetal position on her bed - illuminated by the eerie shadows of light cast by the lantern swinging back and forth as it hung from the ceiling. A moving pattern of stripes was reflected onto her and the wall, and her internal, tenuous hold on reality was beginning to crack. The dark sand clouds of dirt and wind on the exterior seemed to mercilessly consume the vulnerable house. Letty's eyes reflected the terror she felt coming from the uncontrollable forces of nature, threatening to shake the house into oblivion. She had a savage, half-crazed look as the wind began to drive her absolutely insane. The herd of cattle in the corral near the house escaped through a broken fence and surged away. An opening in the side wall of the house also burst open, and sand swirled into the house, threatening to overturn everything, until Letty plugged up the hole with a blanket. The scared family dog joined her on the bed - barking wildly.

Another gaping hole appeared in a broken window pane, and the funneled wind into the home overturned the lit table lamp. A fire soon threatened the interior of the house, and she became frozen and paralyzed while the wind whipped the fire into a conflagration. However, she was finally able to find her strength and resolve and extinguish the flames by covering them with a blanket, and she also plugged up the hole in the window. The overhead lamp kept swinging - it soon disoriented her with its dizzying, mesmerizing effect, and the whole room began to sway.

Then, a disembodied fist knocked on the front door (almost forced open by the strong winds) - she responded to the knocks by covering her ears, hoping that the sound would go away. But then she ran to the door, opened it, and was thrust backward by the strong blast of wind. She collided with the table and fell to the floor. The visitor entered, shut the door behind him, and embraced the semi-conscious Letty on the floor. While held in his arms, she removed his hat - and to her horror realized it was Roddy. She struggled against his powerful arms, but could not escape his grasp. At the same time, the wind blew open the front door, and she tried to flee into the outer darkness. She ran about in the yard and fenced corral area, entirely blinded, when she experienced another subjective, frenzied vision of the ghost horse about to trample over her. She eventually felt her way around the perimeter of the house back to the open front door, where she was literally blown backwards into Roddy's arms - he had been awaiting her return.

When she fainted in his arms, realizing that she was being assaulted by forces from all sides, he picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. He placed her on the bed, and then returned to close and secure the front door with a wooden bar. As she entered her dream world, she had another shocking apparition of the bucking white stallion, defiantly kicking up its back legs. There was a fade to black.

[Note: Due to censorship restrictions, it was prohibited to depict rape on-screen. The ellipsis here provided a time frame for a supposed rape sequence.]

The next morning, calm had been restored, both on the exterior and the interior of the ranch home. Viewed from behind, Letty sat next to the kitchen table. A conspicuous tracking shot approached the back of her head - then turned slightly to the right to provide a clear close-up view of Roddy's holster (with bullets) and gun lying on the table-top. She gazed at the weapon as he entered the room, removed the front door's bar, and forced open the door. A large pile of sand that had accumulated at the front door spilled into the room. When he attempted to close the door, the sand prevented him from doing so. For the time being, he propped a small spade against the partially-closed door, and then insisted that Letty prepare to leave with him:

Better get your things packed, Letty! First thing we know Lige'll be back!

She turned toward him and resolutely refused to follow his orders:

I'm not going away with you - !

He was astounded that she would disobey him, and became more aggressive by grabbing her arm. She walked away, but he again forcibly grabbed her and reiterated: " - but if he finds us here, he'll kill us both!" He feared that Lige would want to kill both of them if they remained there - for her infidelity and for his ruthless treatment of her. She replied: "I hope he will." When he violently grasped her with both hands, shook her, and threw her around the room, she struggled to escape from him, as the family dog barked at him and assisted in her resistance.

As she was tossed into the table, her outstretched hand behind her happened to grasp his revolver on the table-top. When she pointed the gun waist-high at him to defend herself, he confidently dared her to pull the trigger and fire. He walked over to her, bringing his body nearer to the gun barrel that was pointed directly at him. When he smiled and then grabbed the gun, she unexpectedly fired it (accidentally or purposely?) and he was dumb-founded that she would pull the trigger at him. He stood staring at her for a few moments before dropping dead (his eyes slowly closed). After the killing, a number of things happened in rapid succession:

  • the dog howled
  • Letty poked at Roddy's dead body on the floor, then anxiously grabbed her head with an expression of amazed fright
  • more sand blew in through the partially-open front door onto Roddy's corpse, providing her with an idea
  • in a fierce wind and sandstorm, Letty made a desperate attempt to dig a hole outside and bury his entire body in the shifting sands
  • after covering up the body in the sand, the incessant wind slowly uncovered parts of the corpse
  • with a mad look on her face, she stared out of the window and reacted as she saw the body slowly unearthed by the raging wind; Roddy's face and then his hand were the first things to reappear on the surface; the sand refused to let her secret remain covered up; in her mind, evidence of the murder was there, although it was probably only her hallucinatory fear that caused her to see parts of the body revealed

[Note: This was the approximate location of the film's originally-intended ending. The only missing portion was that she was supposed to then frantically run half-crazed into the wind storm and disappear. However, a more happy conclusion was added to satisfy the studio and producers.]

The Upbeat, 'Tacked-on', Hopeful Ending:

When Lige returned, at first only his disembodied hand was seen reaching around the front door that was propped shut with the spade, trying to gain entry. In Letty's distorted mind, she imagined that Roddy had been resurrected and was seeking revenge. She upended the table (where she noticed that Roddy's hat had been left behind), picked up the incriminating gun to hide it, and then fled into her bedroom. She attempted to conceal her own self on the bed, as the wind blew through her hair.

Lige's hand shook her, turned her over, and reassured her that he wouldn't harm her. She boldly confessed that she had killed Roddy:

Lige - I've killed Wirt Roddy!

[Note: However, she did not report being physically violated - the implicit reason for the homicide.]

As he reacted with a stunned look, Letty gestured to the outside - claiming that she had buried Roddy in the sand. He went to the front door and looked where she was pointing, but the corpse was nowhere to be seen ("There's nothin' out there - nothin' but sand - !"). He saw no proof or evidence of her account that she had killed Roddy. He further explained how the killing must have been justified:

Wind's mighty odd - if you kill a man in justice - - it allers covers him up!

According to his account, the wind had removed all traces of her crime, because she had rightly defended herself.

[Note: Was the murder of Roddy an hallucinatory dream? Had the mystical wind - now a force of good aiding and liberating Letty - caused Roddy's body to wash away or vanish?]

Lige approached close to her, cupped her face in his two hands, and sympathized with her plight. He was prepared to send her back to Virginia (with the money acquired from capturing the wild mustangs), but she vowed that she loved him and would remain with him as his wife:

Lige: Poor little Letty - you'll soon be out of all this!
Letty: Don't hate me, Lige! Don't send me away from you!
Lige: But - don't you - want to go?
Letty: Can't you see I love you?

He was amazed by her turn-around, and happily embraced and kissed her. As they kissed, the front door blew open - and Lige hesitated for a moment and asked about her fear of the wind - but she affirmed that she was no longer afraid:

Lige: But the wind, Letty - won't you always be afraid of it?
Letty: I'm not afraid of the wind - I'm not afraid of anything now -- ! - because I'm your wife - to work with you - to love you - !

She marched over and stood at the open door to confront the forces of nature. She triumphantly faced the wind (and the uncertain future) that was blowing straight into her face and sending her hair cascading behind her. Her arms were outstretched as she affirmed her new-found strength and love for him, and was determined to never be dominated again by nature. He embraced her from behind (as she extended her hands behind his neck) before the scene faded to black.

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