Orphaned, and sent to live with relatives in the farm country of Canada, Nora is trapped. She does not know how to survive on a farm. She is not welcome with her relative’s wife, and she cannot return to the world she knows. To escape her relatives household she sets up a sham marriage with a tenant farmer, where he gets someone to cook and clean for him, and she can be more or less alone. The rest of The Candian (1926) is about those two people getting used to each other.
The conflict between these two characters, and the director’s masterful use of space, really makes this film a wonder to watch. An implied rape scene, half way through the film, hits its peak with the farmer punching through the door between her bedroom (the only bedroom in the two room cabin) and the main room, violently breaking the separation between them. As she attempts to escape the next day, the endless stretch of land between the farm and the town proves to be more confining than the cabin. He recovers her collapsed on the side of the road, takes her home, and, once she has recovered, hands her a loaded rifle and leaves, restoring the safety of that space with the same violence it was taken.
(I saw this film at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival)