The House of Darkness

The House of Darkness is a 1913 American short drama film directed by D. W. Griffith.[1]

The House of Darkness
The House of Darkness
Directed byD. W. Griffith
Written byJere F. Looney
StarringLionel Barrymore
CinematographyG. W. Bitzer
Release date
  • May 10, 1913 (1913-05-10)
Running time
17 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles


In the introduction a woman is shown descending into insanity after having lost her baby. As she mourns, she takes a blanket from the baby's cradle and starts rocking it as if it were her deceased child. This serves as an introduction to what kind of individuals that reside at the mental institution. The doctor at the hospital is also introduced as he proposes to a nurse.

The remainder of the film takes place at the aforementioned setting which hosts several unstable individuals. When violence erupts between two patients; one of them (played by Charles Hill Mailes) escapes the scene in an attempt to avoid capture. At the climax of the chase; the patient is ultimately soothed by the music emitting from a piano in the main hospital building (Lillian Gish in a minor role) and lets himself be taken away by the guards. As he is removed from the vicinity of the music; he once again becomes violent and escapes the grasp of his attendants. After having come upon a gun he makes his way towards the house of the doctor's wife (during this sequence, the perhaps most interesting part of the film seen out of a technical perspective takes place as the lunatic sticks his head out in front of the camera from behind a tree). When the woman discovers him; she becomes terrified. During the farce; the wife puts her hands on the piano by accident, creating a sound which appears pleasing to the lunatic. He urges her to continue, using the gun as a tool of persuasion. She proceeds with the playing which ultimately results in him leaving the house and once again welcomes capture.

The film ends informing the viewer on how music becomes an integral part in aiding mentally unstable individuals.


See also


  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: The House of Darkness". Silent Era. Retrieved May 29, 2009.
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