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Saving Sergeant Molly

· The actions of a heroine, symbol of the American Revolutionary War in a 1912 film found in the Vatican Cinethèque ·

Every country has its heroes, whether or not they were real people, who have taken root in the popular conscience and have become the soul of folk tales. Although some of these heroes may truly have existed, their lives are not always based on historical documents but are passed down over the years, becoming a subject of both literature and cinema. And the cinema succeeds better than other narrative forms in making the ordinary extraordinary; the common person is transformed into a hero, while his or her adventures are blown up on the screen and become myth.

So it was with the figure of Molly Pitcher that emerged in a movie kept in the Vatican Cinethèque. It is a short silent feature film of 1912, produced by the French Company Eclair after it had settled in the US, while the cinematographic industry was in a state of great turmoil. It was here that under the direction of Lawrence McGill,  the short feature, Hands Across the Sea – also known as War of American Independence –  came into being in 1976.

The film is a fresco of certain salient events of the American Revolution, which makes room for the figure of Molly Pitcher, whose real name was Mary Ludwig Hays McCauly. She was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1754. This woman, half history and half legend, has become the symbol of female heroism and enterprise. It has also been thought that her name masks the doings of various women who were active during the American Revolutionary War.




St. Peter’s Square

Jan. 17, 2020