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Intolerance (1916)

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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 (137 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007CVS8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,480 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Intolerance (1916)" on IMDb

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

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.

Customer Reviews

It's only the most ambitious film ever made.
As to the film itself, Intolerance is a brilliant and powerful milestone in the history of cinema.
Christopher D. Shaner
At the right speed, this film is well-paced and poignant.
Rivkah Maccaby

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 14, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Imagine that Steven Spielberg was no longer directing movies and that WAR OF THE WORLDS would be the one film he is remembered for. Would that be a fair assessment of his career? Absolutely not but that is what has happened to cinema pioneer D.W. Griffith. The film he is remembered for today is the 1915 BIRTH OF A NATION which was the first important American epic. Unfortunately its source material THE CLANSMAN (the film's original title) is a Southern view of the Civil War which glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and is extremely racist (although toned down considerably from the book by Thomas Dixon). Griffith made 34 feature films and over 400 shorts between 1908 and 1931. In the overwhelming majority of these he is a social progressive tackling such issues as poverty, political corruption, worker exploitation and interracial romance. He even made an anti-Klan film THE ROSE OF KENTUCKY back in 1912.

I mention all of this because in this current climate of political correctness Griffith is being judged and censured on the basis of one film as opposed to his whole body of work and the damage being done to his reputation is still going on. In the recent Oscar nominated film JUNEBUG, one of the characters is a Southern racist Civil War painter who happens to be named David Wark (the D.W. in Griffith's name).

INTOLERANCE, the follow-up to NATION, was the most ambitious and expensive film ever made up to that point (1916) and forever changed the way that movies would be made after it. Because of the lifesize sets of Ancient Babylon and the thousands of extras employed, the movie would cost over $500 million to remake today. Its central theme shows how intolerance through the ages breeds anger, anger then breeds repression and repression breeds more intolerance.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Rivkah Maccaby on December 2, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I've loved this film since I was a teenager. I've even read the bizarre short story that inspired it. Lillian Gish's character, Lucy, is supposed to be twelve in the story, but D.W. Griffith thought the horror of the abuse Lucy endures would traumatize a child actress, so Griffith changed Lucy's age to sixteen, and cast twenty-two year old Gish, who at five-foot-two, about ninety lbs., and in pancake make-up, manages to pull it off.
Child abuse was a new concept when this film was made. The first child abuse case in the US had been prosecuted during Griffith's lifetime (under animal cruelty laws). In order to play to audiences of 1918, when whipping children was acceptable punishment for minor violations, the abuse of Lucy, has to be severe.
Griffith doesn't need to look far. According to the original story, Lucy's boxer father isn't permitted to "strike" his "manager or to throw chairs at him," "but to use a dog-whip on a small child is permissible and quite as satisfying." So Lucy's bruised body "crept about Poplar and Limehouse. Always the white face was scarred." (I have seen Griffith's copy of the book, with his marginal notes, as well as a monograph by the author of the particular story, with signed thanks from Griffith and Gish.)
There are many ironies in this film. This is the first film treatment of child abuse, and it shows horror, because only vicious horror will convince an audience of 1918 that a child is better off away from her father.
The film also shows scenes in an opium den, at a time when this drug is perfectly legal. Our hero is a user, with no intent of quitting. The hero, played beautifully by Richard Barthelmess, is a white man in Asian make-up, because he kisses his under-age girlfriend.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Daniel H. Hawkins on January 22, 2001
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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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Underwood VINE VOICE on May 2, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As WWI was ending, it seemed the world had lost its innocence. The director who himself would become outdated within another decade, decided to tackle the subject of child abuse. D.W. Griffith, one of the true pioneers of American film, did so in tender fashion with one of his most simple yet most beautiful films.

The Great War may have ended, but something far worse was sweeping the globe and it would take more lives than the war had. Lillian Gish came down with the Spanish flu before filming began but, rather than remain in bed waiting to die, she donned a surgical mask and went to rehearsals for "Broken Blossoms." She would survive, but not before the film itself almost suffered the fate she had feared.

Viewed today, this is a somewhat dated but lovely and atmospheric film of great tenderness. It was not met with enthusiasm, however, by Adolph Zukor. He was not interested in art but profits and, perhaps rightly, felt that such a depressing film with such a sad ending would not go over well with the public. Griffith would borrow the money to purchase the film back from him and release it through United Artist. It would be a huge commercial and critical success and prove Zukor wrong.

Lillian Gish would have many poignant moments as a girl never shown kindness or love. Left with an abusive father (Donald Crisp) who beats her on a regular basis, her youth is stolen and full of despair. Both Gish and Mary Pickford would continue to play younger than their actual age, and Gish loses herself as a 12 year old with a heart full of hurt.

Richard Barthelmess is the Oriental shopkeeper who loves her and will help her escape her dreary lot in life.
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