The Avenging Conscience (1914)
When hearing the phrase "silent movie" we don't quite think of them as silent. I picked up The Avenging Conscience on VHS courtesy of Grapevine video and the film really is silent. There isn't even a score on the film, and that can have a surprising effect. I watched Paul Frejos's Lonesome earlier today and that had a poorly tacked on score of classical music that didn't seem to fit the film, but at least it gave it some rhythm. Without any score, ill-fitting or not it can be hard to follow a film. At least when there's no score or dialog, thus hammering home how important music can be in a film. This film another of Griffith's early ventures into feature film territory is about a man who reads a little too much Edgar Allen Poe. He is given the choice between marrying the girl he loves and inheriting his uncle's fortune. He chooses love, but love doesn't choose him. So spitefully he murders his uncle, and puts his body behind a brick wall, but hears his heart beating until he goes crazy. The girl stricken with grief over what she did winds up trying to throw herself off a cliff. Of course there's more to it, and the ending isn't that dreadful. The film did prove however to be an enormous influence on many films after it, and much was appropriated by the German's during the next decade. Not one of his best remembered films, but one well worth hunting out, and I'll likely keep my eyes peeled for a restored edition with a soundtrack, because this was hardly the most pristine of editions.