Friday, March 30, 2012
D. W. Griffith Intolerance
Intolerance is a 1916 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and is considered one of the great masterpieces of the Silent Era. The three-and-a-half hour epic intercuts four parallel storylines each separated by several centuries: (1) A contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption; (2) a Judean story: Christ’s mission and death; (3) a French story: the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572; and (4) a Babylonian story: the fall of the Babylonian Empire to Persia in 539 BC.
Intolerance was made partly in response to criticism of Griffith's previous film, The Birth of a Nation (1915), which was attacked by the NAACP and other groups as perpetuating racial stereotypes and glorifying the Ku Klux Klan.
Lillian Gish ... Eternal Motherhood
Vera Lewis ... Mary T. Jenkins
Mae Marsh ... The Dear One
Fred Turner ... The Dear One's father, a worker at the Jenkins Mill
Robert Harron ... The Boy
Erich von Stroheim ... A Pharisee
Günther von Ritzau ... A Pharisee
Frank Bennett ... King Charles IX of France
Maxfield Stanley ... Monsieur La France, Duc d'Anjou, Charles' younger brother
Josephine Crowell ... Catherine de Medici, the Queen-mother
Joseph Henabery ... Admiral Coligny
Constance Talmadge ... Marguerite of Valois
W.E. Lawrence ... Henry of Navarre
Margery Wilson ... Brown Eyes
Eugene Pallette ... Prosper Latour
A.D. Sears ... A Mercenary
Sam de Grasse ... Mr. Jenkins, mill boss
Constance Talmadge ... The Mountain Girl (second role in film)
Elmer Clifton ... The Rhapsode, a warrior-singer
Tully Marshall ... High Priest of Bel-Marduk
The Ruth St. Denis Dancers ... Dancing girls
Alfred Paget ... Prince Belshazzar
Carl Stockdale ... King Nabonidus, father of Belshazzar
Elmo Lincoln ... The Mighty Man of Valor, guard to Belshazzar
Seena Owen ... The Princess Beloved, favorite of Belshazzar
Arthur Meyer ... The Mountain Girl's brother
Lawrence Lawlor ... Judge (Babylonian Story)
Miriam Cooper ... The Friendless One, former neighbor of the Boy and Dear One
Walter Long ... Musketeer of the Slums
Martin Landry ... Auctioneer
Bessie Love ... The Bride
George Walsh ... The Bridegroom
Howard Gaye ... The Nazarene
Lillian Langdon ... Mary, the Mother
Ruth Handford ... Brown Eyes' mother
Spottiswoode Aitken ... Brown Eyes' father
George Siegmann ... Cyrus the Great
Max Davidson, tenement neighbor of Dear One
????????? ... Egibi
Douglas Fairbanks ... Drunken Soldier with monkey (uncredited extra)
????????? ... Nevers
????????? ... Tavannes
????????? ... Retz
????????? ... Birague
Lloyd Ingraham ... Judge (Modern Story)
Barney Bernard ... The Boy's Attorney
Tom Wilson ... The Kindly Officer (Kindly Heart)
Ralph Lewis ... The Governor
Intolerance and its unorthodox editing were enormously influential, particularly among European and Soviet filmmakers. Many of the numerous assistant directors Griffith employed in making the film — Erich von Stroheim, Tod Browning, Woody Van Dyke — went on to become important and noted Hollywood directors in the subsequent years.
The pictured set was featured in the video game LA Noire as a historical monument.
The Killiam Shows Version: This version, taken from a third-generation 16 millimeter print, contains an organ score by Gaylord Carter. Running approx. 176 minutes, this is the version that has been the most widely seen in recent years. It has been released on LaserDisc and DVD by Image Entertainment. This is the most complete version currently available on home video, if not the longest. Image Entertainment currently also has out a 197 minute version.
The Official Thames Silents Restoration: In 1989, this film was given a formal restoration by film preservationists Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. This version, also running 197 minutes, was prepared by Thames Television from original 35 millimeter material, and its tones and tints restored per Griffith's original intent. (The Internet Movie Database states this version is 177 minutes). It also has a digitally recorded orchestral score by Carl Davis. This version was released in the U.S. briefly around 1989-1990 by HBO Video, then went out of print. This version is under copyright by the Rohauer Collection, who worked in association with Thames on the restoration.
The Kino Version: Pieced together in 2002 by Kino International, this version, taken from better 35 millimeter material, is transferred at a slower frame rate than the Killiam Shows print, resulting in a longer running time of 197 minutes. It contains a synth orchestral score by Joseph Turrin. An alternate "happy ending" to the "Fall of Babylon" sequence, showing the Mountain Girl surviving and re-united with the Rhapsode, is included on the DVD as a supplement. While not as complete as the Killiam Shows Version, this print contains footage not found on any other home video release.
The Restored Digital Cinema Version: Restoration conducted by ZZ Productions in collaboration with the Danish Film Institute and Arte France of the version shown on 7 April 1917 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London. This version runs approximately 177 minutes and premiered 29 August 2007 at the Venice Film Festival and on 4 October on arte.
There are other budget/public domain video and Digital Video Disc versions of this film released by different companies, each with varying degrees of picture quality depending on the source that was used. A majority of these released are of poor picture quality, but even the restored 35 millimeter versions exhibit considerable film damage.
The Internet Movie Database lists the standard running time as 163 minutes, which is the running length of the DVD released by "Public Domain Flicks". The Delta DVD released in Region 1 as Intolerance: A Sun Play of the Ages and in Region 2 as Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages clocks in at 167 minutes. The version available for free viewing on the Internet Movie Archive is listed as 176 minutes, and is presumably the Killiam restoration.
Cameraman Karl Brown remembered a scene with the various members of the Babylonian harem that featured full frontal nudity. He was barred from the set that day, apparently because he was so young. While there are several shots of slaves and harem girls throughout the film (which were shot by another director, without Griffith's involvement) the scene that Brown describes is not in any surviving versions.