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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 <email@example.com>
The Avenging Conscience, Or: Thou Shalt Not Kill (D.W. Griffith, 1914) **1/2
Poe's psychological story "The Tell-Tale Heart" uneasily receives Griffith's trademark Victorian approach turning the madman anti-hero of the original into a frustrated love-struck milquetoast! The broad gestures typical of Silent-film acting render the proceedings unintentionally comical now, especially where the ghostly apparition of the murdered relative is concerned who, by the way, is fitted with an eye-patch throughout and, yet, no reference whatsoever is made to his all-important "vulture eye"!!
Still, the various hallucinations at the climax crude though they may be are reasonably effective. Incidentally, the stilted presentation and moralistic overtones evident here also marked the other Griffith horror effort that I've watched THE SORROWS OF Satan (1926); all I can say is that, in spite of the solid reputation THE AVENGING CONSCIENCE enjoys within the director's canon, personally I was underwhelmed by the film on a preliminary viewing.
Other cinematic adaptations of the classic tale I've checked out all of them relatively recently are the interesting 1928 short (viewed on the very same day as the Griffith title), the so-so 1936 British feature-length version and a pretty good animated rendition of it from 1953.
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