Way Down East: A Simple Story of Plain People (1920)
Directed by DW Griffith

IMDB entry | Clips
Opening title cards:
Since the beginning of time man has been polygamous - even the saints of Biblical history - but the Son of Man gave a new thought, and the world is growing nearer the true ideal. He gave of One Man for One Woman. Not by laws - our Statutes are now overburdened by ignored laws - but within the heart of man, the truth must bloom that his greatest happiness lies in his purity and constancy. Today Woman brought up from childhood to expect ONE CONSTANT MATE possibly suffers more than at any other point in the history of mankind, because not yet has the man-animal reached this high standard - except perhaps in theory.

If there is anything in this story that brings home to men the suffering caused by our selfishness, perhaps it will not be in vain.

Time and place - in the story world of make-believe
Characters - nowhere - yet everywhere
Incidents - never occurred - yet always happening

Let us suppose a remote village in New England.

Ending title cards:
The one man for the one woman, between them the Sacramental bond-- Life's cleanest and sweetest. T:H:E E:N:D

Figure 1: Opening shot of remote village in New England where Anna Moore (played by Lillian Gish) lives with her mother. They are poor and worried about money.

Figure 2: Anna Moore, abandonned by Lennox Sanderson (the father) and in a boarding house with her very ill baby.

Figure 3: Anna baptizes her baby.

Figure 4: Anna floating on ice toward doom.

Figure 5: Anna and Davide Barlett getting married.