|OpenFlix > Intolerance|
After watching it, I have a whole new appreciation for D.W. Griffith. Yes, I was able to tell the characters apart, and yes, I was able to keep up with all the storylines. This film was a giant leap forward in filmmaking from Griffith's previous film, "The Birth of a Nation." The most impressive story of the film is the fall of Babylon. The sets were magnificent, and the battle scenes were spectacular. Constance Talmadge was wonderful as the Mountain Girl. The modern story was entertaining and moving. The French and Judean stories were very underdeveloped, but that really didn't bother me.
Anyone with an interest in silent movies or film history must see this film.
And yet somehow, through all this confusion, the movie comes together in the second act and works. It's climax is brilliantly sustained. The old cliche of saving the innocent man from being murdered is used here and surprisingly manages to find some suspense. The Babylonian scenes are saved by the enchanting mountain girl whose death is tragic in its symbolism. The other stories, in France and Judea, are quickly passed over. The Judaen conclusion ends with Christ's crucifixion in a very far shot. We can't see anything Mr. Griffith.
Confusion aside, once this film starts to work, it works brilliantly. Griffith was a master of sustained tension if nothing else. Watch out for the knives over the string that will release the noose on the hangman! I was surprised I got so involved in a silent, especially after watching Griffith's Birth of a Nation which really only succeeds now, as a historical document.
DVD comes with an option to watch the four stories individually. May be of use to the easily confused, such as myself.
Griffith interweaves the four parallel stories set, respectively, in the modern era (fuddy-duddy reformers and a workers' strike), Jerusalem (Christ's crucifixion), 1572 Paris (a "hotbed" of persecution against the Huguenots), and ancient Babylon. No collection of silent films is complete without this landmark, awe-inspiring epic, which really does boast a cast of thousands (the most memorable of which is Constance Talmadge as the spunky Mountain Girl). The fall of Babylon ranks with one of the great action set pieces, complete with racing chariots, a nifty decapitation (at the hands of Elmo Lincoln, the man who would be Tarzan), and falls from what appear to be incredible heights. The edge-of-your-seat climax to the modern story, a race against time to save an innocent young man from the electric chair, is another bravura sequence.--Donald Liebenson
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