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Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

Passed | | Drama, History | 24 February 1918 (Italy)
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The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

D.W. Griffith (scenario), Anita Loos (titles)
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lillian Gish ... The Woman Who Rocks the Cradle / Eternal Mother
Mae Marsh ... The Dear One
Robert Harron ... The Boy
F.A. Turner ... The Dear One's Father (as Fred Turner)
Sam De Grasse ... Arthur Jenkins
Vera Lewis ... Mary Jenkins
Mary Alden ... Uplifter
Eleanor Washington Eleanor Washington ... Uplifter
Pearl Elmore Pearl Elmore ... Uplifter
Lucille Browne Lucille Browne ... Uplifter
Julia Mackley ... Uplifter (as Mrs. Arthur Mackley)
Miriam Cooper ... The Friendless One
Walter Long ... The Musketeer of the Slums / Babylonian Warrior
Tom Wilson Tom Wilson ... The Kindly Policeman
Ralph Lewis ... The Governor
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Storyline

Intolerance and its terrible effects are examined in four historical eras. In ancient Babylon, a mountain girl is caught up in the religious rivalry that leads to the city's downfall. In Judea, the hypocritical Pharisees condemn Jesus Christ. In 1572 Paris, unaware of the impending St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, two young Huguenots prepare for marriage. Finally, in modern America, social reformers destroy the lives of a young woman and her beloved. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Unholy Love See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

24 February 1918 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Mother and the Law See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$385,907 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2000 video release) | (DVD) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many sources claim that the walls of Babylon were actually life-size, at 300 feet--more than 25 stories--high. However, assistant director Joseph Henabery said that the walls, which were made of lath and plaster with a lumber frame, were only 100 feet high, as 300-foot-high walls of that material would have blown over with just a light wind. In fact, even at 100 feet high the walls were guyed with steel cables because a fairly stiff breeze would have blown them down. See more »

Goofs

In the opening of the Babelonian story, shortly before the intertitle reading "Dearest one - in the ash heaps of my back yard...etc." (spoken by the Rapsode), a group of extras behind the Mountain Girl are shown get up and walk off to the left. In the next shot, when the Rapsode puts his face up to the Mountain Girl's ear to speak his line, these extras are shown to still be seated in their former places. See more »

Quotes

The Princess Beloved: My Lord, like white pearls I shall keep my tears in an ark of silver for your return. I bite my thumb! I strike my girdle! If you return not, I go to the death halls of Allat.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Constance Talmadge is credited as 'Georgia Pearce' for her performance as Marguerite de Valois in the French Story. She is credited under her own name in the role of The Mountain Girl in the Babylonian Story. See more »

Alternate Versions

A print of Intolerance was put together by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, restoring to the film scenes that were excised and that survive only in single badly-damaged still frames. These scenes were:
  • In the Jerusalem scenes: more shots of the market with a dove seller that is visible in a long shot that exists in the film; an interlude between the priests and Mary Magdalen; an extension of the wedding ceremony for the bride and groom of Cana.
  • In the Babylonian scenes: more shots of the battle scenes and feasting; a scene at the jury where Josef Henaberry has a cameo as an agonized husband. Henaberry talked about this scene in Kevin Brownlow's book The Parade's Gone By.
  • In the French scenes: a whole subplot in which the assassination of a Huguenot politician (not Coligny) is plotted and carried out (this story is real, the actual events having occurred at Blois in 1572); a street scene that occurs before we meet Brown Eyes and Prosper - a woman calls out from a window "Look out below!" and dumps the (liquid) contents of a chamber pot into the street below, just as a pedestrian jumps out of the way; a couple more shots of the wedding procession.
  • In the Modern scenes: more scenes of the Modern Pharisees doing their evil deeds.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Voyage to Italy (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Love's struggle through the ages
14 November 2001 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

"Intolerance" (Wark Producing Corporation, 1916), directed by D.W. Griffith, became an immediate follow-up to the director's previous effort, a civil war story titled "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), using many of the same actors including Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Miriam Cooper, among others. Of the two, I find "Intolerance" the most interesting, mainly because of its advance style in story telling. Yet, "Intolerance" did not become as successful nor controversial as "The Birth of a Nation" when first released.

"Intolerance" consists of four separate stories into one movie, but what's unusual about it is that the stories are not told episodically, but presented simultaneously in parallel action, linked together with Lillian Gish as the mother rocking her cradle. The stories consist of THE MODERN STORY, THE JUDEAN STORY, THE FRENCH STORY and finally THE BABYLONIAN STORY. Of the four, only THE JUDEAN STORY is the shortest and less detailed, featuring the life of Jesus Christ, as played by Howard Gaye. THE MODERN STORY, starring Mae Marsh and Robert Harron, finds the young couple getting married, followed by the husband resorting to life of crime when unable to find work, and later accused of a murder he did not commit; THE FRENCH STORY is set during the Middle Ages with Brown Eyes (Margery Wilson) and Prosper Latour (Eugene Palette) of religious intolerance under the regime of Catherine De Medici (Josephine Crowell); and THE BABYLONIAN STORY finds the Mountain Girl (Constance Talmadge) treated kindly by Belshazzar (Alfred Paget) when she is forced by the judicial system to appear on the marriage market, and falls in love with her prince. The battle scenes in this segment are well staged, considering the time of when this movie was produced. The Belshazzar's Banquet Hall set is the most famous sequence of all, shown many times as a film clip segment in several documentaries about silent films. The sets are lavish and the expense of this production shows. In spite of some hokey acting and title cards, which was taken seriously by 1916 standards, it's still a worthy viewing, especially for film scholars. Of all the actors who have appeared in this production, and there are too many to mention, the one who's most remembered long after the film is over is the one with less footage, Lillian Gish.

"Intolerance" is available on video in several different versions. Besides public domain videos with bad copies and no music score whatsoever, the three noted mentions include, (1) The former Blackhawk Video Company distributed it in the 1980s at 135 minutes accompanied with clear picture, an organ score and intermission. The opening titles of that print claims it to be the most complete copy, which includes the list of cast actors and their roles. (2) When Blackhawk merged with Republic Video several years later, it presented another copy, a shorter but almost clearer print running at 121 minutes accompanied with a good piano score and tinted picture, but minus the listing of the cast of actors and their roles. This was the copy used for the Public Television presentation of "The Silent Years" (1971), as hosted by Orson Welles. (3) Then there is another video copy, compliments of Kino Video, which runs at silent accu-speed, making it as long as three hours, color tints, accompanied with organ score, this version which can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. With several video copies currently available, it would certainly make a difference as to which one would make watching this movie enjoyable. On a personal level, I'd recommend No. 2, the Republic Video copy with the piano score.

"Intolerance" can almost be said to be the first all-star movie production. But for what it's worth, this epic should rank as one of the greatest of all silent films. It's amazing that it wasn't named as one of the 100 Greatest American Movies of the twentieth century by the American Film Institute. Maybe a proposed TV special on the selection of 100 Greatest Silent Movies of All Time will amend that (****)


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