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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 161 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

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

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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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Featured in Hollywood: Out West (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Who Is To Blame?
11 December 2002 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Although publicized as a dramatization of Custer's Last Stand, this bears little relation to the events as known. It is a story of.... well, it is one of the most morally ambiguous pieces of Griffith's that I have seen. Griffith spent most of his career using his serious pieces to dramatize society's problems, even when he had no solution to offer, from WHAT WILL WE DO WITH OUR OLD to his last credited directorial job, THE STRUGGLE. I think Griffith meant to raise questions and tell an exciting story, as he always did.

The first question is: which massacre? After some setting scenes, we witness a massacre as a cavalry unit attacks an Indian village. We are not told why they are attacking it. Then, when that is over, we see a wagon train moving west. Was the massacre of the Indians intended to leave their lands empty for settlers? The camera pulls back, and we see a wolf watching the wagon train, then a bear appears and drives off the wolf. Then the bear is driven off by an Indian scout in a bearskin.... and he brings the Indian forces that massacre the wagon train, leaving only Blanche Sweet and her baby alive.

To which massacre does the film's title refer? Who is to blame? Who began this cycle of massacres? Who benefits? Was there no beginning and can there be no end?

Although Griffith directed more than five hundred pictures, almost all of which survive, he has a vast corpus of works that are rarely seen, because so many people concentrate on his best features and perhaps a dozen of his best-known shorts. Kino is to be applauded for including a sizable number of his lesser-known, but equally powerful shorts in their most recent compilation, and for hiring John Mirsalis to do scores.


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