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Intolerance (1916)

4.3 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Four separate stories are interwoven: the fall of Babylon, the death of Christ, the massacre of the Huguenots, and a contemporary drama, all crosscut and building with enormous energy to a thrilling chase and finale. Through the juxtaposition of these well known sagas, Griffith joyously makes clear his markedly deterministic view of history, namely that the suffering of the innocents makes possible the salvation of the current generation, symbolized by the boy in the modern love story.

Special Features

  • Filmed introduction by Orson Welles
  • Excerpts from Cabiria (1914) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1914)
  • Text excerpts from "Away with Meddlers: A Declaration of Independence" and "The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in America," two pamphlets published by D.W. Griffith at the time of Intolerance's release
  • Excerpt of The Fall of Babylon (1916), which offers an alternate (happy) ending to the Babylonian sequence
  • About the score

Product Details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Spottiswoode Aitken, Mary Alden, Frank Bennett
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Writers: D.W. Griffith, Anita Loos, Frank E. Woods, Hettie Grey Baker, Mary H. O'Connor
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Dubbed: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: December 10, 2002
  • Run Time: 197 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007CVS8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,666 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Intolerance (1916)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I must admit that I was intimidated by "Intolerance" before sitting down to watch it. I knew it was an early silent movie (1916) consisting of four different stories. I knew that the three hour running time would be spent intercutting between these four stories. Would I be able to keep up with all four stories? Would I be able to tell the different characters apart in the grainy black and white (with color-tinting)?
After watching it, I have a whole new appreciation for D.W. Griffith. Yes, I was able to tell the characters apart, and yes, I was able to keep up with all the storylines. This film was a giant leap forward in filmmaking from Griffith's previous film, "The Birth of a Nation." The most impressive story of the film is the fall of Babylon. The sets were magnificent, and the battle scenes were spectacular. Constance Talmadge was wonderful as the Mountain Girl. The modern story was entertaining and moving. The French and Judean stories were very underdeveloped, but that really didn't bother me.
Anyone with an interest in silent movies or film history must see this film.
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Format: DVD
I have long been a great admirer of this wonderful film, and am always interested in the latest VHS or DVD editions that are made available. The print quality on this Delta release is surprisingly good, making it an excellent value for the curious collector desiring an introduction to D. W. Griffith's 1916 cinema masterpiece. There are several different edited versions of Intolerance that have been produced over the last few years for video, each slightly unique in terms of editing and emissions/additions of key scenes. This Delta DVD version is no exception, with some interesting fadeouts to a couple of scenes that, in some prints, cut abruptly to the next shot. The music that accompanies the film sounds as if it was pieced together from pre-recorded sources, but it works well enough and it's apparent some real effort was used to match the music to the mood of the images. As to the film itself, Intolerance is a brilliant and powerful milestone in the history of cinema. D. W. Griffith wove four separate stories together, each from a different period of history, to illustrate the theme of man's inhumanity to man. The results were certainly startling to 1916 audiences, and no less impressive today. Superb performances abound in all four stories, most notably Mae Marsh and Robert Harron in the Modern Story, Constance Talmadge and Elmer Clifton in the Babylonian Story, Howard Gaye in the Nazarene Story, and Margery Wilson, Eugene Pallette and Josephine Crowell in the French Story. The beautiful repeated shot of Lillian Gish as the Woman Who Rocks The Cradle, a device linking the individual stories, has become an enduring icon of the Silent Cinema. And of course, the magnificent sets of Ancient Babylon are among the most wonderful ever created for a moving picture.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
Many of the reviewers here rightly praise Griffith's well-deserved credit for his technical achievements. Others criticize him for a poorly constructed film. The fact of the matter is that, for 1916, this film is an incredible feat. The first American big-budget extravaganza, it followed closely in the steps of other big multi-reel films in vogue at the time(Griffith's own Birth of a Nation, and others coming out of Italy). The spectacle alone makes this film worth a look, but viewers should try to contextualize it. There was a great expectation across the nation to what would come from Griffith after the amazing--and incendiary racist-film, Birth of a Nation.
What is Intolerance really a metaphor for anyway? Griffith was fighting off attempts by legislators to regulate or censor the motion picture industry. An anti-censorship booklet released by Griffith in 1916 suggests he continued to respond to "moral reformers" even as he assembled Intolerance. In fact, his film is an attempt to address these reformers while simultaneously opining on nothing less than the historic importance of the film media itself.
Intolerance is really about a nation's cultural memory and Griffith's attempt to offer a totalizing, yet entertaining version of it. His belief that if we were educated on the subject of past "sins of hate, hypocrisy and intolerance" through the magic of film that we could inoculate ourselves against war, capital punishment and other evils. He argued that film was a better education than traditional education. To quote the master: "Six moving pictures would give students more knowledge of the world than they have obtained from their entire study." Such an understanding is, of course, naïve and dangerous.
Griffith was caught in a double-bind.
Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This version of Intolerance is to film lovers what old wine must be to the grape connoisseur, and worth every cent of the price.

If youve never seen Intolerance then please, please, watch the Kino version or none at all. This is the most complete version that history will ever allow us to see and how Griffith must have intended his 1916 audiences to view. The restoration itself is a work of art, the film speed has been adjusted to reproduce more natural human movement and the frames are all corrected so you won't see any scenes split in half with the bottom half at the top of your screen and top half at the bottom, the film runs 3 ½ hours.

Intolerance is NOT in black & white, it is in color, or rather tints, restored in dozens and dozens of shades that enhance the mood of each scene. The Dolby stereo score played with full orchestra matches the mood and dramatic action as well, they even dropped in some period instruments and sound effects that would have been heard in that period of history the story is taking place, (enjoy the full dimension of sounds made for this film by having your bass speakers turned on).
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