• PG, 2 hr. 55 min.
  • Classics
  • Directed By:
    D.W. Griffith
    In Theaters:
    Sep 5, 1916 Wide
    On DVD:
    Dec 10, 2002
  • Cohen Media Group


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Intolerance Reviews

Page 1 of 14
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

February 14, 2011
Did D W Griffith make Intolerance to exonerate himself of being a racist? No, that is a stupid notion. This was a huge production, made under a year after Birth of a Nation and the wheels were set in motion before the criticism started. Did it help exonerate him? Yes, maybe but yet still to this day I read stupid reviews on flixster and imbd of people jabbering on about how he is a racist. It's boring, stupid and wrong. Again, these comments generally come from those who tend to believe everything they read and over the years this myth has almost become fact in many peoples minds.

Intolerance is big - especially for it's day. It's not just the budget and set that was big though, the story is one of the most important ever told through the medium of cinema. To shrug this film off is to shrug off what makes you who you are, our history, what makes us what we are - granted, it's not always a pretty sight but one that we should not turn away from. One of the most important films ever made and still breathtakingly impressive nearly 100 years later.
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

January 2, 2011
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?

Super Reviewer

September 27, 2010
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.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

March 1, 2010
Before 'Pulp Fiction' and 'The Lord of the Rings', at a time when films were just at an age of adolescence, D. W. Griffith produced 'Intolerance', a pure cinematic treat of grand proportions. Involved in practically every aspect of the craft, from direction to makeup, Griffith lavishly proved his artistic talent.

'Intolerance' is unarguably a work of ambition. The daring script structure that took almost eighty years to grow to its full potential, the jaw-dropping sets, disgustingly expensive for contemporary studios, a cast of thousands, and top class performances from the entire cast, particularly the female leads ? radiate with freshness in the third millennium. The achievements make it irresistible to disconsider any flaw. But 'Intolerance' is flawed. Its dogmatic, utopic, and often historically inaccurate, plot makes room for wide criticism. And yet, the paced finale, with nail-biting suspense, redeem Griffith's attempt of delivering a mature product.

Often misunderstood, and characterised as Hollywood trite, the film is devoured by its own complexity. The four stories intertwine sporadically, disconnected, only to allude in the end at the similarity of human kind since the beginning of time. 'Intolerance', ultimately, is an epic on humanity, and its tenacity is a testament of its greatness.

Super Reviewer

January 26, 2007
griffiths lengthy film is often cited as one of the great films in history, and because of its innovation in technique and massive budget it deserves most of its reputation. i did however find the film to be too slowly paced, resulting in an unnecessary length, and the film lacked needed clarity in proving its main point. in some ways the film is griffiths justification for his own racist themes in his previous film, which made the film labor too hard to be enthralling on its own without a back story. a must watch for die hard film fans, but not memorable.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

February 15, 2007
Griffith, against all the odds manages to top 'Birth of a Nation'. Here he weaves four different stories, from four different time periods. Each story is fantastic in it's own right, and Griffith creates a brilliantly paced film. The ending is one of the most action packed/intense in cinema history. All at once their is a car vs. train chase. The crucifixtion of christ, and the fall of babylon. Amazingly the battle scenes are not that far from 'Lord of the Rings' despite coming about 90 years previous.
Byron B

Super Reviewer

June 21, 2007
An over three hour epic. D.W. Griffith showed in some of his other works that he was himself intolerant and racist. Somehow he managed to compose films that demonstrated he understood certain parts of humanity's struggle. His cast, on the whole, gives superb performances. The film looks quite beautiful with extensive use of the camera's iris to focus our attention where Griffith wants it to be. Four stories in four time periods are interwoven to explore parallel instances of intolerance. The thread that takes place in 1570's Paris is the least developed or clear story. The thread that takes place in Judea during Jesus' life is also not given as much time, but is mainly to provide what the majority would consider a moral compass. There is a story thread that takes place in even more ancient times; Griffith lingers on the setting of Babylon for a good amount of time. Finally, contemporary America in the 1910's is the setting for the bulk of the film. A Whitman poem and Lillian Gish bridge the gaps. In sixteenth century Paris we deal with King Charles IX (Bennett), Catharine de Medicis (Crowell), Prosper (Pallette) and his young bride-to-be Brown Eyes (Margery Wilson). We are really looking at the conflict between the ruling Catholics and their intolerance of the political/religious party the Huguenots, who are Protestants. In New Testament times we see Jesus (Howard Gaye), who loved the downtrodden and turned water into wine. We are really looking at how the Pharisees (feel free to look up the actually definition of who they were) are like the temperance leagues of the early 20th century, and how Jesus is supposed to be the essence of love. In ancient Babylon we deal with Prince Belshazzar (Paget), The Princess Beloved (Owen), The Mountain Girl (Constance Talmadge), and the High Priest of Bel (Marshall). We are really looking at competing pagan loyalties and battling political powers. The Prince, who we are told allows religious tolerance in the great city joins with the high priestess of Ishtar and makes her his Princess. Ishtar is the goddess of love, fertility, and festivities. The High Priest of Bel, the patriarchal Sun god, is jealous of the Priestess turning the population from his "right" way of living. He makes a political alliance with a neighboring leader who wants to overthrow Belshazzar. The Mountain Girl is a somewhat comic character, who happens to find herself involved in the power struggle. Talmadge's wildcat tomboy performance was the most histrionic of the whole movie and a little hard to believe. Way before the current trend of strong bow-and-arrow wielding female characters, The Mountain Girl disguises herself as a soldier and goes to fight for Belshazzar though. Most importantly, in the early decades of the 20th century we deal with The Dear One (Mae Marsh), The Boy (Robert Harron), The Friendless One (Miriam Cooper), The Musketeer of the Slums (Walter Long), the the Jenkins and several lady "Uplifters." We are really looking at labor unrest, crowding cities, urban crime, single mothers facing adverse circumstances, and the social workers who claim to know the way to clean up society. This part of the story has a touch of satire, though The Dear One's love story with The Boy is incredibly dramatic. This story could have held the movie all on its own.
Lauren D

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2010
I was bored to death. I realize this comment coupled with a movie from the 1910's automatically renders me a 'noob', but it is. There was one storyline which was somewhat interesting, though I have now forgotten which. Overall though, it was long and boring.

Super Reviewer

August 24, 2008
Redemption for Griffith came with an astonishing work of art.The Birth of an Empire it should be alternatively nicknamed,the second title of Love's persistence is the dark sheet of pessimism,4 eras of desperation and at the same time,visionary trembling.Directorial zeal or a capitalist engrossment?You decide...

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2008
It?s amazing how ahead of its time this movie was. The concept of four parallel stories based on a single subject is something that would have been ahead of its time in the late fifties, much less the nineteen teens. The production values are also huge and highly impressive. However, all this lavishness does come at the sacrifice of a certain intimacy and a certain detail in each individual story. Also, as interesting as I find silent cinema, watching one of these movies for three hours is a little testing at times. Also the DVD Netflix sent was a piece of shit: the print was beyond awful even by the standards of a movie this old. It was so bad that a lot of the title cards were unreadable, and that made the viewing a bit intolerable (pun intended).
September 4, 2012
A 3 and-a-half hour silent epic that tells several stories from different time periods all involving intolerance. If you have the time and patience, it is a pretty great film with the modern story being the most interesting to watch. Even by today's standards, this film probably can't be matched.

Grade: A
July 8, 2011
quite a masterfully-produced epic. the four intertwining stories were sewn together beautifully, although given its brevity, I wonder how necessary the Jesus story really was. it just didn't seem to carry the same weight as the other three. while the film does drag mightily in some places, the final build-up and climax is excellent. I almost wanted to watch this devoid of title cards. visually, this is a stunning work of art with some wonderful silent acting contributions as well. the title card writing, though, got on my nerves. I could have made a great drinking game out of spotting every use of the word "intolerance" and any derivative thereof. I also thought for as grandiose and poetic a style used (in writing and overall filmmaking), intolerance seems like a weak theme. I don't know that I'd sum up the fall of Babylon as an issue of mere tolerance. I think it's a fine title, but I think it would have been much more powerful to leave it at that and not try to hammer home a point every 5 minutes. I don't love this film, but it's hard to deny its lasting influence and effect.
December 12, 2010
i can only still a visual masterpieceimagine what audiences thought seeing this with its complex (4 then) 4 stories and in spite of the rascism aside
January 3, 2007
I understand its place in avant garde film history, but it's still a big Griffith film, and can be tedious.
June 20, 2008
Long-winded, disjointed, and the poor quality of the film made it extremely difficult to read the placards.
August 3, 2009
"Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages" Intolerance trumps "The Birth of A Nation" and also any film that claims it's scope is the biggest. This is the epitome of "Epic". The sheer brilliance of Intolerance is something that cannot be denied.
May 3, 2009
"The Cruel Hand of Intolerance"

Griffeth's design for this film is to juxtapose four stories from different periods of history that illustrate "Love's struggle throughout the ages." These include a selection of events from the life of Jesus; a tale from ancient Babylon, whose king is betrayed by those who resent his rejection of relegious sectarianism; the story of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of French Protestants by King Charles the IX of France on the perfidious advice of his mother;

and a modern story in which a young boy, wrongly convicted of the murder of a companion, is rescued from execution at the last minute by the intervention of his beloved, who gains a pardon from the governor. These stories are not presented in series. Instead, Griffeth cuts from one to another and often introduces suspensful crosscutting with the stories as well.
June 6, 2009
One of D.W. Griffith's best movies and number one favorite silent movie of mine. Griffith made this movie after making Birth Of A Nation. It is said that Griffith made this movie as atonement for all the anger and controversary that Birth Of A Nation created when it came out.
March 16, 2008
As far as silent films go, i'm not a big fan. Especially if they are 2 and a half hours long... That was until I viewed Intolerance. This movie is the silent era at its finest. Weaving 4 stories into one movie, the story has more than enough to keep it alive. The narraration helps highlight the beauty of the plot (it seems as if it is stating history out of a book). My only problem with this film is the length. At over 2 hours, silence mixed with classical music can get to your head, so if you don't have patience, don't expect to sit through it in one sitting. If you do manage to watch it, you won't regret it.
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