12 user 10 critic

The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' (1914)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 24 August 1914 (USA)
Objected to date his sweetheart by his uncle, a young man turns his thoughts to murder.




On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A religious woman seeks to save her people from destruction by seducing and murdering the enemy leader, but her plans get complicated once she falls for him.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Blanche Sweet, Henry B. Walthall, Mae Marsh
Cinderella (1914)
Fantasy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Based on the fairy tale: Cinderella is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, but is able to go to the royal ball through the help of the Fairy Godmother.

Director: James Kirkwood
Stars: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, Isabel Vernon
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Young lovers in a French village are torn apart with the coming of the Great War.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Adolph Lestina
Cabiria (1914)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »

Director: Giovanni Pastrone
Stars: Italia Almirante-Manzini, Lidia Quaranta, Bartolomeo Pagano
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A poor student rescues a beautiful countess and soon becomes obsessed with her. A sorcerer makes a deal with the young man to give him fabulous wealth and anything he wants, if he will sign... See full summary »

Directors: Paul Wegener, Stellan Rye
Stars: Paul Wegener, John Gottowt, Grete Berger
Adventure | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Loosely adapted from Dante's Divine Comedy and inspired by the illustrations of Gustav Doré the original silent film has been restored and has a new score by Tangerine Dream.

Directors: Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Salvatore Papa, Arturo Pirovano, Giuseppe de Liguoro
Fantomas (1913)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Inspector Juve is tasked to investigate and capture an infamous criminal Fantomas.

Director: Louis Feuillade
Stars: René Navarre, Edmund Breon, Georges Melchior
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Mae Marsh
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Captain Nemo has built a fantastic submarine for his mission of revenge. He has traveled over 20,000 leagues in search of Charles Denver - a man who caused the death of Princess Daaker. ... See full summary »

Director: Stuart Paton
Stars: Allen Holubar, Dan Hanlon, Edna Pendleton
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

John Howard Payne at his most miserable point in life, writes a song which becomes popular and inspires other people at some point in their lives.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Henry B. Walthall, Josephine Crowell, Lillian Gish
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In Part Two of Louis Feuillade's 5 1/2-hour epic follows FantÃ'mas, the criminal lord of Paris, master of disguise, the creeping assassin in black, as he is pursued by the equally resourceful Inspector Juve.

Director: Louis Feuillade
Stars: René Navarre, Edmund Breon, Georges Melchior
Posle smerti (1915)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Andrei lives a secluded life with his aunt, studying and thinking about his now-deceased mother. His friend Tsenin is concerned, and tries to get Andrei to accompany him to social events. ... See full summary »

Director: Yevgeni Bauer
Stars: Vitold Polonsky, Olga Rakhmanova, Vera Karalli


Cast overview:
Spottiswoode Aitken ...
The Uncle
The Nephew's Sweetheart
The Italian
Ralph Lewis ...
The Maid
The Grocery Boy
George Beranger ...
(as George A. Berranger)


Thwarted by his despotic uncle from continuing his love affair, a young man turns to thoughts of murder. Experiencing a series of visions, he sees murder as a normal course of events in life and kills his uncle. Tortured by his conscience, his future sanity is uncertain as he is assailed by nightmarish visions of what he has done. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama


Not Rated




Release Date:

24 August 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Murderer's Conscience  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Intertitle: She fears something more than mere mental derangement.
See more »


Remade as Le coeur révélateur (1966) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"For the moon never beams without giving me dreams"
2 September 2009 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

If DW Griffith is fondly remembered at all these days, it is usually for his exhilarating rides-to-the-rescue or the breathtaking pageantry of his epics. Those who have studied his work in any depth will of course know of his fine and subtle handling of drama and romance. However far fewer have commented on his masterful evocation of atmosphere. This, his only entry into the horror genre, a genre that is nine-tenths atmosphere, is appropriately steeped in it.

Griffith was of course a visual storyteller, but he learnt techniques of narrative and exposition from the world of literature. In the Avenging Conscience, he not only bases his story on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, but he juxtaposes the horrific with the beautiful and tender, as did Poe, Bram Stoker and many other Victorian horror writers. This uncomfortable contrast is established from the very first scene. As the opening shot fades in, we are clearly looking at a funeral scene, but then cut immediately to a baby in his cot – innocent life in the midst death. Throughout the picture Griffith shows an unusually high number of inserts which do not directly tell part of the story, but which add layers of terror or revulsion – such as a howling wolf or an owl hooting in the trees. A dreamlike tone is maintained throughout, with few title cards, but some snippets of Poe's poetry that relate to the story only in an abstract manner.

The Avenging Conscience also contains some wonderful examples of Griffith's handling of dramatic depth. He keeps his camera at a respectful distance during the romantic scenes, refraining from facial close-ups until the latter moments, and then only using them sparingly to give them maximum impact. Some might pick at the fact that the camera is always static, and there is little editing within the scene, but in fact this just goes to demonstrate just how much a director can do with movement within the frame. To take one example from this picture – in the earlier scenes at the uncle's house, there is a birdcage with a few canaries hopping around inside it. In later scenes it is covered up, twisting forlornly on its hook. It's a great touch to establish mood, but Griffith doesn't draw our attention to it with a clumsy close-up or lumbering pan; our eyes will be drawn to it because it is moving while other things in the frame are still. Audience members will notice it without feeling like they have been forced to notice it.

Sadly, the few limitations of Griffith's technique do stick out in this one. In particular, his tendency to keep all characters involved in a scene on screen at the same time makes shots (such as the uncle hiding in a bush to spy on the courting couple) look ridiculous. Also, without point-of-view shots, some moments can be a bit confusing, as it is impossible to tell who is looking at what. But these are small worries, and the Avenging Conscience is far more coherent and realistic than the many other pictures of its day.

If Judith of Bethulia was a dress-rehearsal for the massive action spectacles of Griffith's longer features, the Avenging Conscience was perhaps a dry-run for the subtle romantic drama which brought balance to those pictures. But it's also one of the most unique and remarkable shots in his canon, creeping us out with horror imagery five years before Caligari, creating tension out of guilt thirty years before Double Indemnity, with a climax that will startle those who think they know Griffith's cinema.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Griffith in Germany: Avenging Conscience hml-3
The director's cameo? JackBluegrass

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: