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The Massacre (1914)

 -  Short | War | Western  -  26 February 1914 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 151 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

The story of the massacre of an Indian village, and the ensuing retaliation.

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Title: The Massacre (1914)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Wilfred Lucas ...
Stephen
...
Stephen's Ward
Charles West ...
Stephen's Ward's Husband
Alfred Paget ...
Indian Chief
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Craig
Edward Dillon ...
John Randolph, In Prologue / In Cavalry
Charles Gorman ...
In Cavalry
...
In Cavalry
Dell Henderson ...
In Wagon Train
Harry Hyde ...
In Wagon Train
J. Jiquel Lanoe ...
In Wagon Train
Charles Hill Mailes ...
In Wagon Train
...
Stephen's Belle, In Prologue
W. Chrystie Miller ...
In Wagon Train
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Storyline

An army scout, Stephen, asks a young woman to marry him, only to discover that she loves another man. Stephen rejoins the army, while the other two get married and have a child. Two years later, the young family heads west as part of a wagon train, while the scout takes part in a brutal raid on an Indian village that leaves the survivors thirsting for revenge. As the wagon train including the young family heads into dangerous country, Stephen is part of the military escort that is assigned to protect it. Not long afterward, when the wagons stop to make camp, Indians stage a carefully planned attack on the camp. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | War | Western

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Release Date:

26 February 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La matanza  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Well-Crafted Action Scenes With An Effective Message
30 January 2006 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

One of D.W. Griffith's earlier attempts at making a feature longer than on or two reels, this has well-crafted action scenes, and while some of it is surprisingly morally ambiguous, it also effectively communicates an anti-violence message. It's similar to the better-known "Battle at Elderbush Gulch" in following the build-up to a battle between Indians and settlers, and in focusing on the individuals caught up in the ensuing violence. Although the action and human drama are probably not quite as good in this one, of the two features this one takes an especially even-handed approach to the conflict.

The story starts with a Griffith standby, a woman choosing between two suitors, who are then both part of a wagon train heading west, with the rejected suitor now a scout with the wagon train's military escort. The main story shows a brutal cavalry raid on a nearly defenseless Indian village, followed by the revenge attack on the wagon train. The latter attack is an extended sequence that fills up an entire reel or so of film. The scenario is supposed to have been based on events connected with General Custer's final defeat, but as it stands, there are no direct references to the specific historical events, so that is either a misconception or else an advertising technique.

Whatever other views Griffith had (and is often deservedly criticized for), he was always effective in communicating the horrifying effects of war and armed conflicts, especially on families. In both attack sequences, he takes pains to depict the ways that the unarmed, especially women and children, are senselessly killed and maimed. He also has some memorable shots of individuals and their actions when they are under attack.

In this particular feature, although more screen time is devoted to the attack on the wagon train, both attacks are treated in the same manner. In each case, he does not lay blame on the individuals involved in the attack, instead concentrating on the sufferings that they inflict, suggesting perhaps that if they stopped to realize what they were doing, things might be a lot different.

The clear-cut message overshadows somewhat the technical accomplishments of the movie. Griffith would soon do even better from the technical viewpoint, but even this feature already succeeds well in depicting a chaotic battle for an extended period.


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