Intolerance (1916)



Critic Consensus: A pioneering classic and one of the most influential films ever made, D.W. Griffith's Intolerance stands as the crowning jewel in an incredible filmography.

Movie Info

Sometime during the shooting of the landmark The Birth of a Nation, filmmaker D.W. Griffith probably wondered how he could top himself. In 1916, he showed how, with the awesome Intolerance. The film began humbly enough as a medium-budget feature entitled The Mother and the Law, wherein the lives of a poor but happily married couple are disrupted by the misguided interference of a "social reform" group. A series of unfortunate circumstances culminates in the husband's being sentenced to the … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Classics
Directed By:
Written By: D.W. Griffith, Tod Browning
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 10, 2002
Cohen Media Group


as Cradle Rocker

as Girl

as Mountain Girl

as Bride of Cana

as Princess Love

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as Friendless One

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as Mary Jenkins

as `Uplifter'/Reformer

as `Uplifter'/Reformer

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as The Kindly Neighbor

as `Uplifter'/Reformer

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as The Musketeer of the...

as The Kindly Policeman

as Barbarian Chieftain

as The Governor

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as Brown Eyes' Mother

as Father Farley

as Prison Guard

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as Strike Leader

as Henry of Navarre

as A Crook

as Woman at Jenkins' Em...

as Bartender

as A Friend of the Musk...

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as Attorney for the Boy

as Woman at Dance of Je...

as Jenkins's Secretary

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as A Babylonian Dandy

as Mary Magdalene

as The Mercenary

as First Pharisee

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as Bridegroom

as A Wedding Guest

as Brown Eyes

as The Favorite of Egib...

as Her Mother

as The Mercenary

as Charles IX

as Harem Girl

as Duc d'Anjou

as Catherine de Medici

as Henry of Navarre

as Admiral Coligny

as Duc de Guise

as A Catholic Priest

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as Cyrus the Persian

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as The Runner

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as Old Babylonian Woman

as Brown Eyes' Father

as Solo Dancer

as Chief Eunuch

as Barbarian Chieftain
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Critic Reviews for Intolerance

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (6)

All at once the Moloch of cineastical good intentions, the first great juggernaut of auteur ambition, and the largest experimental film ever made.

Full Review… | May 9, 2014
Village Voice
Top Critic

Griffith's trademark closeups lend a quivering lip or a trembling hand the tragic grandeur of historical cataclysm.

Full Review… | May 5, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

Intolerance looks both backward and forward. The strong exploit the weak, it cries, and all governments throughout history are evil.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

Intolerance reflects much credit to the wizard director, for it required no small amount of genuine art to consistently blend actors, horses, monkeys, geese, doves, acrobats and ballets into a composite presentation of a film classic.

Full Review… | February 6, 2008
Top Critic

The verdict Intolerance renders in the controversy concerning its maker is that he is a real wizard of lens and screen.

Full Review… | April 8, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

One of the great breakthroughs -- the Ulysses of the cinema -- and a powerful, moving experience in its own right.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Intolerance

Project 2 (Epic films)

Directed by D. W. Griffith and staring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh and Robert Harron.

Unlike D. W. Griffith Racists town for his blockbuster the Birth of a Nation and the charging that it had overt racist content, characterizing racism as people's intolerance of other people's views. So he takes us throw 4 Eras were peoples intolerance to each other has lead to the failure of them and the people in general that are affected.

Intolerance was a colossal undertaking filled with monumental sets, lavish period costumes, and more than 3,000 extras. The film consisted of four distinct but parallel stories that demonstrated mankind's intolerance during four different ages in world history.
The timeline covered approximately 2,500 years of our intolerances and ages.

The story themselves are together not just straight forward chronological order...No, Each scene is like it affects somewhere else in a different Era starting with the cruserfiction of Jesus Christ and how religion is affecting us in the modern Era.

The Babylonian period tells the story of the fall of there nation witch resulted in nothing but intolerances between them and the gods. And the massive War machines they plan to build to destroy there Enemies.

The Judean Era is only a short one but it is the Era that will affect most people with the cruserfiction of Jesus Christ, which the intolerance of Romans and Jews lead to that.
The French Renaissance Era in tells the story of Edict of Tolerances' which will lead to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.
The modern Era tells that of the intolerances between Man and his brother and the way life is being affected by Crime and corporal punishment in where an innocent man will be hang at the gallows.

The story themselves will really speak to you throughout the movie not just focusing on massive sets. I admit this is very old but just the story telling is what I love about the movie it's better then what I wrote. It's the editing and the way scenes are put in place to move you as a viewer. And the films' ending is like the 4 different Eras are still alive even though it's past that.

The reason for all this mountains of amazing footage and sets and costumes and locations is that intolerances cost just over $2 million American dollars. Now that is a stunning amount for its time this only happened because of the Birth of a Nation in which that made millions for its investors and associates. But by all accounts this movie was a massive failure at the box office only making 2 hundred thousand back of its 2 million budget. I am stunned that more people didn't see this movie it's like the avatar of the 1910s.


Such fantastic sets for the Babylon era just left me stunned, that camera that moves in from the top to the bottom was just amazing and for it's time of course. Not just that but the massive wall during the invasion scene were they fire arrows down onto the massive war machines just left me thinking how he did it? I mean did he build those walls? Or are they moving miniatures? I don't know the special effects are just that believable. That whole invasion scene in general will go in my favorite film scenes list.

The editing well...It's very hard to do by Griffith it's not the one near liner but more of the Close ups and Long tracking shot's for more of that Era feel to it so you see everything. And the camera moving down into the city was just amazing. The only thing I didn't like about this movie was its assonating length of 3 hours or even over. It's not that the move is boring No I just felt that certain things could have been shortened during the French and Modern American Eras came around in scenes.

The acting is extremely good just the emotions they put into scenes to capture that real silent feel to it. And with a cast of thousands you will see things that will impresses you a lot. I think the music and costume designs were extremely good I just loved how they captured that staggering aspect to the film.

But overall it's nothing short of an assonating masterpiece of the silent Era. With some of the best story telling and special effects I have seen. With such a blend of different editing techniques and even the story themselves.

Keiko's score 97-100

Keiko A. --Samurai--
Keiko Aya

Super Reviewer

Whatever you think of D.W. Griffith's opinions on race -- I think they're despicable -- you cannot deny that he was a brilliant and innovative filmmaker. I had been wanting to see this film for ages, and I was not disappointed...well, not much, anyway,

This film --partially as apology for Birth of a Nation I'm sure -- attempts to demonstrate the evils of intolerance through four interwoven stories set throughout history. In reality only two of the stories are really covered in full, while the other two are just sketched over. As the film progresses, the stories get more and more intertwined as their plots begin to meld and mime each other, until their climaxes (climaces?) where the same things appear to be happening in each storyline. Therein lies a bit of a problem, in that the film begins to get confusing. I had heard that was the issue when the film was first released, so I was prepared, but it didn't help much.

While the story wasn't as clear as I would have liked, the technical aspects of the film and the details Griffith put in were unbelievable. Anyone else would have built the massive city of Babylon as a miniature. Griffith built it full-scale, and it is stupendous. To film in this city, he even developed new ways of mounting and moving the camera so as to get shots no one had gotten until that time.

Griffith's racist attitudes are disgusting. His talents as a filmmaker are breathtaking. Do the ends justify the means?

Cindy I

Super Reviewer


D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance" is my pick for the most influential film ever made. Try looking at any film that came after it and you will find direct connections. Lofty, gaudy and epic.

Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

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