SmackAMack’s Blog

March 25, 2009

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Through the Ages (1919) – Film Review

Filed under: Film Review,Uncategorized — smackamack @ 3:36 pm


200px-intolerance-lillian_gishPlot: Intolerance and its terrible effects are examined in four historical eras. In ancient Babylon, a mountain girl is caught up in the religious rivalry that leads to the city’s downfall. In Judea, the hypocritical Pharisees condemn Jesus Christ. In 1572 Paris, unaware of the impending St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, two young Huguenots prepare for marriage. Finally, in modern America, social reformers destroy the lives of a young woman and her beloved. Directed by D. W. Griffith, starring Mae Marsh, Douglas Fairbanks and Lillian Gish.

This silent film was directed by the infamous D. W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation) in 1916 and considered one of the created masterpieces of the silent era.  It has actually been called the greatest film ever made an Professor Theodore Huff, a leading film critic,stated that the motion picture was worthy of taking its place alongside Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the masterpieces of Michalangelo, etc. as a separate work of art. 

320px-griffith-intoleranceThe film had a MASSIVE budget of $385,000, which was unheard of…I think it still makes it one for the most expensive films ever made.  The sets and costumes were out of this world…especially the ones for the Babylon story.  I still don’t want to think about how many extras there were and how many costumes they had to make.  The size of the film really was out of this world.  The massive lifesize set of the Great Wall of Babylon seen in the fourth story, was placed at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard (where the historic Vista Theater was built and where it remains to this day) when the movie was completed. It was a notable landmark for several years, until the fire department declared it a hazard and ordered it torn down. D.W. Griffith discovered that he had run out of money and was therefore unable to finance its demolition. Apart from temporary use as a filming location in Griffith’s 1918 film Hearts of the World, the set stood derelict and crumbling for nearly four years until it was finally taken down in 1919. By then it had fallen apart enough for it to be dismantled at a sufficiently low cost. 

into5Anyway, I had been putting of this film for obvious reasons…specifically the 3 hour length that scared me.  In the end, it was ok.  It was really long, really confusing, and a little boring (took me a week to watch in full).  However, if you are going to watch an old silent film thats 3 or 4 hours long…do me a favor and watch Birth of a Nation instead…brilliant!

I recommend this film for people who are interested in silent cinema. I give the film 3/5 stars.


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