“Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages” (1916)

There’s only one director from the silent era strong enough to follow Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and Alexander Nevsky.

Remember this quote by Paul Tatara?

If D.W. Griffith invented the language of film, through the introduction of such techniques as close-ups and tracking shots, Eisenstein, a Russian, contributed film’s elements of grammar.

It’s time to look at Griffith’s most famous works, starting with Intolerance.

It’s too ambitious, and it fails. However, Intolerance is the “Icarus” of silent era epics – unforgettable and spectacular.

It’s worth watching, or trying to watch it, just to say you’ve seen it, but there are also many good parts, and one thing is most certain: the man knew how to film a siege of Babylon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All images are from this overwrought but very clearly imaged Cohn Media Group “Intolerance” trailer.
Reportedly, Griffith was making the film that eventually became Intolerance’s Modern Story when he saw Cabiria, with its ground-breaking moving camera technique, and got his epic on. I like to think he watched the siege in Cabiria and said to himself, “I can do that better.”

He did. He most definitely did.

Ladies and gentleman, here is today’s feature: D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance!

Categories: Saturday Silents

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