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Classic Silent Film:D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916)

23/11/2018

Made the year after Birth of a Nation, this was one of the masterpieces of the silent era. It influenced many subsequent films and film makers

Wikipedia

Intolerance is a 1916 epic silent filmdirected by D. W. Griffith. Subtitles include Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages and A Sun-Play of the Ages

Widely regarded asone of the great masterpieces of the silent era(though it received mixed reviews at the time), the three-and-a-half-hour epic intercuts four parallel storylines, each separated by several centuries: (1) a contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption, (2) a Judean story: Christ’s mission and death, (3) a French story: the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, and (4) a Babylonian story: the fall of the Babylonian Empire to Persia in 539 BC. Each story had its own distinctive color tintin the original print, but not in the currently available versions. The scenes are linked by shots of a figure representing Eternal Motherhood, rocking a cradle.

Intolerance was made partly in response to criticism of Griffith’s previous film, The Birth of a Nation (1915), which was criticized by the NAACP and other groups as perpetuating racial stereotypes and glorifying the Ku Klux Klan. It was not, however, an apology, as Griffith felt he had nothing to apologize for; in numerous interviews, Griffith made clear that the film’s title and overriding themes were meant as a response to those who he felt had been intolerant of him in condemning The Birth of a Nation. In the years following its release, Intolerance would strongly influence European film movements. In 1989, it was one of the first films to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

 

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