Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Intolerance (1916)

So your last movie trashed for being extremely racist and falsifying history and you feel hurt. What do you do?

Say: “arh, maybe you are right I was a bit out of line”?

Maybe make a movie to show that you are definitely not a racist bastard?

You could also switch to a whole different theme and hope that people will forget over time.

D.W. Griffith did none of the above.

Apparently he felt so hurt and unfairly treated that he wanted to make a film to show how intolerant people are and how the saints or the different people are always crucified.

Talk about being blind to your own faults!

It seems like he could not really decide on a story: Something with Jesus, no, big and ancient like Babylon or modern maybe, something we can relate to and those bleeding catholics, they are gonna have it to. Well in the end he decided to make them all. And big big big!

In my opinion this story is a mess. There is a Babylonian part, a part about Christ, some French Huguenots being prosecuted and a modern story. The whole thing is something like 160 minutes long. And long is the right word. Normally I like multi track stories, especially if they somehow interconnect, but here I just lost interest long before it was through. I watched it to the end, but that was just me not wanting to give up. Mentally I was bored to stupidity and the point and finer details of the individual stories just eluded me.

At least the Babylonian part had some really nice sets and a fine battle; I just did not really see the connection with the story. I had to read up on the background to find out who was intolerant to whom. I mean the story of Christ and the story of the Huguenots are pretty straight forward, but not the two others. Except of course that people are getting sooo unfairly treated and this is the fate of those who think differently at any time in history.

There was one part I liked. Lillian Gish rocking the cradle, symbolizing the mother of humanity or something like that. This was a very loaded image and worked well for me the first two to three times she appeared. Eventually however even that became uninteresting.

Maybe this was actually an interesting film

Maybe it was important

My mind just went into stupid mode long before the resolution of the stories.

All I could think of was: What a hypocrite ass!


  1. Ha ha ha! Nice review. This is a film that I need to rewatch in order to comment intelligently on it, but I certainly remember it being long. THAT much stuck about it for me.

    I liked it more than Birth of a Nation, but that's not hard to do.

  2. The reason to see this film is to look at the massive sets and cast of thousands and say "Wow!". You're right that he made this, not as an apology, but as a defense for his Birth of a Nation film.

  3. Except that Birth of a Nation didn't trash at the box office. It held the record for highest grossing film from 1915 through 1939, when it was upstaged by Gone with the Wind.

    1. True. At the box office it did magnificiently. Maybe the public were so amazed by this new concept, the feature movie, that they ignored the message. Or maybe they actually approved of the message. Those were different times. I do not know. But it has remained to thisday one of the most controversial films in history and in its day caused riots and protests and what not. It may not have been trashed at the box office, but it has by many if not most critics for its content and rightly so.

  4. I agree that it is overly long, but I liked it much more than you. Pure spectacle alone makes it worth the watch--plus, knowing the background as to why he made it adds another interesting element to it for me.

    1. I can see your point and would probably even agree if I had seen a 10 minute extract from the movie, but somewhere between the first and the second hour I lost interest in this monstrosity.