INTOLERANCE: Introduction by composer Carl Davis (Recorded August 8, 2013)
- 3:00 only
$7 Member $12.50 Regular
Directed by D.W. GRIFFITH
Musical Score Written And Conducted By CARL DAVIS
“THE ULYSSES OF THE CINEMA!”
– Dave Kehr
(1916) Overwhelmingly spectacular (the assistant directors alone included W.S. Van Dyke, Tod Browning, and Erich von Stroheim) follow-up to Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, with Lillian Gish’s cradle-rocking tying together stories of Christ, the 16th-century St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, the fall of Babylon (complete with 300-foot high chariot-bearing battlements), and a modern day story capped by the original car vs. train race to the crossing to deliver the reprieve. Restored with original tinting and toning, with musical score by Carl Davis (Napoleon) performed by The Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestra. 167 minutes (plus intermission). DCP.
A Cohen Film Collection Release
"SURPRISES EVEN TODAY WITH ITS VITALITY! Griffith’s project was a major step in 1916, when the feature-length film was still in its infancy. Four tales across history are told in dizzying and masterly alternation, all linked by the broad themes of intolerance and hatred. The poignant, the brutal, the hair-raising and the sentimental churn together in meticulously composed spectacles."
– Nic Rapold, The New York Times
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"Set the template for the gargantuan action spectacle! The harrowing battles are sparked by conflicts over religion, money, and sex, which Griffith magnifies, with histrionic artifices, to a sort of movie opera. The plunging and roving camera provides visceral thrills.. and Griffith's trademark closeups lend a quivering lip or a trembling hand the tragic grandeur of historical cataclysm."
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"CONSTANTLY DAZZLING! Admittedly a daring storytelling gambit, and not a whole lot of conventional narrative filmmakers have tried to meet this challenge since. The most spectacularly vital film running theatrically in the five boroughs!"
- Glenn Kenny
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“Griffith’s epic celebration of the potentialities of the film medium — perhaps the greatest movie ever made and the greatest folly in movie history. It is charged with visionary excitement about the power of movies to combine music, dance, narrative, drama, painting, and photography — to do alone what all the other arts together had done. In this extravaganza one can see the source of most of the major traditions of the screen — the methods of Eisenstein and von Stroheim, the Germans and the Scandinavians, and, when it’s bad, De Mille. It combines extraordinary lyric passages, realism, and psychological details with nonsense, vulgarity, and painful sentimentality.”
– Pauline Kael
“The way Griffith brings all four stories to a climax at the same time so that you’re chasing along in a chariot, the cross is being carried through Jerusalem, the Huguenots are being slaughtered and you’re tearing along in a train across modern America, is just amazing. The scale of his ambition and the level to which that ambition is achieved are astounding.”
– Kevin Brownlow
“Griffith’s magnificent epic intercuts four stories set in four different periods — an experiment with cinematic time and space that even the avant-garde has only recently begun to absorb. Griffith conceived the film as four rivers that ‘seem to flow together in one common flood of humanity.’ One of the great breakthroughs and a powerful, moving experience in its own right.”
– Dave Kehr
“The siege towers that had been built for the Persian army turned out to be impossibly heavy. Griffith brought in elephants to push them. He’d wanted elephants anyway; Pastrone had had elephants in Cabiria. The filmmakers, being inexperienced as zookeepers, did not realize at first that they’d acquired both males and females. They learned quickly, on the job, to separate the unruly beasts. Then Griffith decided it would be exciting to make an 80-foot-high tower crash directly toward the viewer. Deputed to get the shot, Karl Brown gamely stood his ground, though the rate at which he cranked the camera went up as the tower came down. Extras were knocked unconscious when real rocks were really thrown from the heights of Babylon. For a night shot, Billy Bitzer rigged the entire set with magnesium flares and managed not to burn it down. Griffith continued for weeks to mass his forces around the walls, making up most of the action as he went along. By early winter, he was done—and so began construction of the second Babylon set.”
– excerpt from “The Work of Art of the Future,” Chapter 1 of Film Follies by Stuart Klawans, available for sale at our concession during the run of Intolerance.