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The Massacre (1912)

Not Rated | | Short, Action, War | 26 February 1914 (USA)
The story of the massacre of an Indian village, and the ensuing retaliation.


D.W. Griffith


D.W. Griffith

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


As the woman he loved lay dying, the former suitor swore to protect the child of the other man, just killed in battle. The baby grown to womanhood, the man's love for the mother was felt again, but a stranger claimed the girl's love. So the man with his trust left for the far Northwestern country and joined in the government wars against the Indians. There again he met the life which he had sworn to protect. How well he succeeded, the returning young husband could most appreciate, after one of the most deadly massacres and Indian battles of the period. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Short | Action | War | Western


Not Rated






Release Date:

26 February 1914 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La matanza See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This was released in UK over a year before it was released in USA. See more »


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

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User Reviews

"The Lure of the West"
17 January 2009 | by Steffi_PSee all my reviews

DW Griffith films are like proverbs. For every one preaching one point of view, you can find another stating the opposite. The Massacre is, perhaps, the "Too many cooks spoil the broth" to The Battle of Elderbrush Gulch's "Many hands make light work".

Although the framing story is that of a family of white settlers, the central segment showing a seemingly unprovoked raid on an Indian village (an equally viable candidate for the titular massacre) is a different matter. The camera is literally on the side of the Indians, joining them on the hillside as they flee. The cavalry charge is not exciting (and Griffith was more than capable of making it so had he wished), and in both this and the final massacre the mid-shots are mostly of victims being gunned down, whereas the attackers are only shown in distant "god" shots.

The Massacre was Griffith's last two-reeler before he moved onto features (which Judith of Bethulia could be counted as), and there are some good examples of how he is now adept at balancing out a longer story. While the opening scenes are fairly inconsequential, there is a single close-up of Blanche Sweet's baby – which not only elicits an emotional response, but also helps us remember the child later on. Later, there is a short scene of some of the settlers playing cards, which seems superfluous at the time, but it pays off towards the end when one of the men is killed, the cards spilling from his hand as he falls. Perhaps most significant of all are the couple of brief family shots from the Indian village shortly before the first massacre, neatly echoing the scenes with the settler family.

Another shot, not as effective but nevertheless remarkable, is of a wolf being frightened off by a bear, just before the Indians attack. It's a rare bit of symbolism from Griffith and while not particularly subtle it was quite a novelty for the time. And it does sum up the message of the picture, the same as that of Fort Apache; that Native Americans, while being traditional antagonists of the Western genre, should never be underestimated.

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