Featured image

This revenge is not so sweet - quite nasty, in fact - showing that producers learned early that exploiting human fascination with viewing violence can be profitable.

Online: YouTube

1904 seems to have been the year that the fledgling film industry made an important but unheralded discovery: audiences also like to root for outlaws - even when they know those outlaws are doomed to fail.

Just look at Revenge, and compare it with another crime film by the same director, released just ten months earlier: The Pickpocket. Although the titles might lead one to believe The Pickpocket is a character study while Revenge is not, actually neither reveals anything about the protagonist.

But although both begin with commission of the crime that sets off the action, nothing in the portayal of the pickpocket garners audience sympathy for the outlaw or his crime. On the other hand, the protagonist of Revenge is shown committing his crime as a victim of betrayal, his life ripped apart by those in power and authority. Finally, the film industry had tapped into an archetype that cinema audiences never seem to tire of identifying with: the protagonist who feels wronged by the powers that be, so sets out for to make things right by slaughtering everything in sight.