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Encyclopedia > Intolerance (film)

Intolerance is a silent film directed by D.W. Griffith in 1916. The film, considered one of the great masterpieces of the Silent Era, was made in response to critics, who claimed that Griffith's 1915 epic The Birth of a Nation was racist. A silent film is a film which has no accompanying soundtrack. ... David Lewelyn Wark Griffith (January 22, 1875 - July 23, 1948) was an American film director (commonly known as D. W. Griffith) probably best known for his film The Birth of a Nation. ... 1916 is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar) // Events January-February January 1 -The first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled. ... Films are produced by recording actual people and objects with cameras, or by creating them using animation techniques and/or special effects. ... 1915 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... The Birth of a Nation is a controversial, though highly influential and innovative silent film directed by D.W. Griffith, based on Thomas Dixons novels The Clansman (also a play) and The Leopards Spots. ... An African-American man drinks out of the colored only water fountain at a racially segregated streetcar terminal in the United States in 1939. ...



One of the most spectacular films of all time, Intolerance was a colossal undertaking filled with monumental sets, lavish period costumes, and requiring more than 3,000 extras. The film consisted of four distinct but parallel stories that demonstrated mankind's intolerance during four different ages in world history. The timeline covered approximately 2,500 years, beginning with:

A scene from the Babylon segment
A scene from the Babylon segment
  1. The "Babylonian" period (539 BC) depicts the fall of Babylon as a result of intolerance arising from a conflict between devotees of different Babylonian gods.
  2. The "Judean" era (circa 27 AD) recounts how intolerance led to the crucifixion of Jesus.
  3. The French Renaissance (1572) tells of the failure of the Edict of Toleration that led to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.
  4. Modern America (1914) demonstrates how crime, moral puritanism, and conflicts between ruthless capitalists and striking workers helped ruin the lives of Americans.

These stories are not told separately. Instead the film constantly cuts between them, setting up moral and psychological connections among the different stories. As the four stories progress toward their climaxes, the cuts become more rapid. Breaks between the differing time-periods are marked by the symbolic image of a mother rocking a cradle, representing the passing of generations. Still from Intolerance by D. W. Griffith, a 1916 silent film. ... Still from Intolerance by D. W. Griffith, a 1916 silent film. ... Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 580s BC - 570s BC - 560s BC - 550s BC - 540s BC - 530s BC - 520s BC - 510s BC - 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC Events and Trends 538 BC - Babylon occupied by Jews transported to Babylon are allowed to return to... Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu, an ancient city in Mesopotamia (Location: 32° 32′ 11″ N, 44° 25′ 15″ E, modern Al Hillah, Iraq). ... Events The Emperor Tiberius retires to Capri, leaving the praetorian prefect Sejanus in charge of both Rome and the Empire. ... Crucifixion is an ancient method of execution, where the victim was tied or nailed to a large wooden cross (Latin: crux) and left to hang there until dead. ... Jesus, also known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, most of the adherents of which worship him as the Messiah, son of God, and God incarnate. ... Events January 16 - Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk is tried for treason for his part in the Ridolfi plot to restore Catholicism in England. ... An Edict of Toleration is an act of heads of state and government, proclamations and treaties either securing or dismantling the freedom of religion and worship within their respective territories. ... The St. ... 1914 is a common year starting on Thursday. ...

One of the unusual characteristics of the film is that none of the characters have names. Griffiths wished them to be emblematic of human types. Thus, the central female character in the modern story is called The Dear One. Her young husband is called The Boy, and the leader of the local mafia is called The Musketeer of the Slums. An emblem consists of a pictorial image, abstract or representational, that epitomizes a concept - often a concept of a moral truth or an allegory. ...

Actual costs to produce Intolerance are unknown, but best estimates are close to $2 million (around $33 million in today's dollars), an astronomical sum in 1916. The movie was by far the most expensive made at that point. When the movie became a flop at the box-office, the burden was so great that Griffith's famed Triangle Studios went bankrupt.

Cast and credits

  • Directed and written by D.W. Griffith
  • Assistant directors: Allan Dwan, Erich von Stroheim, Christy Cabanne, Tod Browning, Jack Conway, Victor Fleming, W.S. Van Dyke, Elmer Clifton, Monte Blue, Mike Siebert, George Siegmann
  • Cinematography: G.W. Bitzer and Karl Brown
  • Editing: James and Rose Smith
  • Original running time: approximately 8 hours
  • Average running time of currently available copies: just under or over 3 hours (depending on the version available; scroll below for details)

The cast was enormous and included: Allan Dwan (April 3, 1885 – December 21, 1981) was a pioneering Canadian-born American motion picture director, producer and screenwriter. ... Erich von Stroheim (September 22, 1885 - May 12, 1957) was a filmmaker and actor, noted for his arrogant Teutonic character parts. ... Charles Albert Browning, Jr. ... Jack Conway is an attorney in Louisville, Kentucky. ... Victor Fleming (February 23, 1883 - January 6, 1949) (sometimes Vic Fleming) was an American film director. ... Woodbridge Woody Strong Van Dyke II (March 21, 1889 - February 5, 1943) was an American film director. ...

The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. ... Lillian Gish Lillian Diana de Guiche (October 14, 1893 - February 27, 1993), was an American actress known as Lillian Gish. ... Samuel Alfred De Grace (June 12, 1875 - November 29, 1953) was a Canadian actor. ... Mildred Harris Image Click Here] Mildred Harris (November 29, 1901 - July 20, 1944) was a notable actress of the silent screen era and first wife of acting legend Charlie Chaplin. ... Robert Bobby Harron (April 12, 1893 - September 5, 1920) was a highly successful and publicly popular American motion picture actor of the early silent film era. ... Harold Lockwood Harold Lockwood (born April 12, 1887 in Newark, New Jersey - died October 19, 1918 in New York City, New York) was one of the most popular original silent film actors and matinee idols of the early film period during the 1910s. ... Wilfred Lucas, born January 30, 1871 in the Province of Ontario, Canada - died December 5, 1940 in Los Angeles, California, United States, was a stage and film actor, a film director, and a screenwriter. ... Mae Marsh (born Mary Wayne Marsh, November 9, 1895 in Madrid, New Mexico, died February 13, 1968 in Hermosa Beach, California) was an actress with a career spanning over 50 years. ... Owen Moore (December 12, 1886 - June 9, 1939) was born in Fordstown Crossroads, County Meath, Ireland. ... Wallace Reid Wallace Reid, born April 15, 1891 in St. ... Constance Talmadge (April 19, 1897?-November 23, 1973) was a silent movie star born in Brooklyn, New York, USA, and was the sister of fellow actor Norma Talmadge. ... Natalie Talmadge, (1899--1969) was a silent film actress. ... Tully Marshall was a film actor with an over sixty-year career in film. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... Bessie Love (September 10, 1898 - April 26, 1986) was an American actress. ... Constance Collier was a film actress. ... Carmel Myers (April 4, 1899? - November 9, 1980) was an American actress who worked chiefly in silent movies. ... The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ...

A detailed account of the film’s making is told in the William M. Drew 1986 book titled D.W.Griffith's Intolerance: Its Genesis and Its Vision.

Different existing versions

Although the film itself is now in the public domain, there are currently three major versions of the film in circulation. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...

  • The Killiam Shows Version: This version, taken from a third-generation 16mm print, contains an organ score by Gaylord Carter. Running approx. 176 minutes, this is the version that has been the most widely seen in recent years, and is currently airing on Turner Classic Movies. It has been released on LaserDisc and DVD by Image Entertainment.
  • The Kino Version: Pieced together by Kino International, this version, presumably taken from better 35mm material, contains a synth score by Joseph Turrin and an alternate "happy ending" to the "Fall of Babylon" sequence. This runs 197 minutes and is on DVD from Kino.
  • The Official Thames Silents Restoration: In 1989, this film was given a formal restoration by film preservationists Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. This version, also running 197 minutes, was prepared by Thames Television from original 35mm material, and its tones and tints restored per Griffith's original intent. It also has a digitally recorded orchestral score by Carl Davis. It was released briefly on home video in the 1990s, but has never been telecast in the U.S. This version is under copyright by the Rohauer Collection, who worked in association with Thames on the restoration.

There are other budget/public domain video and DVD versions of this film released by different companies, each with varying degrees of picture quality depending on the source that was used. A majority of these released are of poor picture quality. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a cable television channel similar to American Movie Classics (AMC) featuring classic movies from the Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. ... Pioneers LaserDisc Logo The laserdisc (LD) was the first commercial optical disc storage medium, and was used primarily for the presentation of movies. ... DVD (sometimes called a Digital Versatile Disc [1]) is an optical disc storage media format that can be used for data storage, including movies with high video and sound quality. ... Image Entertainment is a major home video and television distribution company that has handled digital media distribution of television programs, public domain and copyrighted feature films, and music concerts. ... DVD (sometimes called a Digital Versatile Disc [1]) is an optical disc storage media format that can be used for data storage, including movies with high video and sound quality. ... Kevin Brownlow (2 June 1938–) is a film historian, television documentary-maker, and author born in Crowborough, Sussex. ... Sir David Gill (June 12, 1843 – January 24, 1914) was a Scottish astronomer who spent much of his career in South Africa. ... The classic Thames Television logo (1969 - 1989), featuring a geographically incorrect montage of London landmarks. ... Carl Davis (b 1936) is an American conductor and composer who has been living in the UK for the past two decades. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Intolerance (1762 words)
Intolerance, therefore, emerges as a slightly uneven viewing experience whose synthesis of and additions to film language strongly influenced cinema throughout the world at an early point in its history.
It is a resonating, vaguely symbolic composition that verges on the poetic.
Intolerance surpasses The Birth of a Nation in most categories of cinematic value, but it sacrifices some of the coherence or focus that the earlier film maintained.
Intolerance - Synopsis - Moviefone (427 words)
The film began humbly enough as a medium-budget feature entitled The Mother and the Law, wherein the lives of a poor but happily married couple are disrupted by the misguided interference of a "social reform" group.
The four separate stories of Intolerance are symbolically linked by Lillian Gish as the Woman Who Rocks the Cradle ("uniter of the here and hereafter").
Remarkably sophisticated in some scenes, appallingly naïve in others, Intolerance is a mixed bag dramatically, but one cannot deny that it is also a work of cinematic genius.
  More results at FactBites »



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