Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages - 1916

Country: USA
Release Date: 5 September 1916 (USA)
Director: D.W. Griffith Writers: Hettie Grey Baker (titles - uncredited); Tod Browning (uncredited); D.W. Griffith (scenario); D.W. Griffith (titles - uncredited); Anita Loos (titles); Mary H. O'Connor (titles - uncredited); Walt Whitman (poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"- uncredited); Frank E. Woods (titles- uncredited)
Stars: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh and Robert Harron
Also known as: Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (USA - original title); Intolerance Germany / Sweden (imdb display title) / USA (short title); Intolerância (Brazil / Portugal); Intolérance (France); Intolerància (Spain/ Catalan title); Intolerance: A Sun-Play of the Ages (USA - copyright title); Intolerancia (Spain - imdb display title); Nietolerancja (Poland); Suvaitsemattomuus (Finland); Türelmetlenség (Hungary); The Mother and the Law (USA/working title)
Filming locations: Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA; Fine Arts Studio - 4500 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (Babylon set); Fine Arts Studios - 4516 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio); Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA; Saint-Mihiel, Meuse, France (World War Front: Modern War sequence); Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, USA (Babylon set)
Budget: $385,907 (estimated)
Filming Dates: 17 October 1915 - April 1916 Copyright Holder: David Wark Griffith; 24 June 1916; LU8570 / David Wark Griffith; 5 September 1916; LP9934
Runtime: 163 min | UK: 178 min (2000 video release) | USA: 197 min | Spain: 197 min (DVD version) | Spain: 123 min (TV version) | Argentina: 175 min | Portugal: 210 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Trivia: The inspiration for this film came from D.W. Griffith's surprise at the loud protests against his previous film, The Birth of a Nation. In response to those attacks, he wanted to illustrate the problem with intolerance to other people's views. The massive life-size set of the Great Wall of Babylon, seen in the fourth story, was placed at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard (in Hollywood, California) when the movie was completed. It became a notable landmark for many years during Hollywood's golden era. It actually stood on the lot of the studio on Prospect Avenue near the Sunset & Hollywood Boulevard junctions in the eastern end of the city. It was the first such exterior set ever built in Hollywood. Falling into disrepair, it was eventually torn down. Years later, this same Babylon set was replicated as the central courtyard design for the new Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood, which opened in 2001. After filming wrapped, the Los Angeles Fire Department cited the Babylonian set as a fire hazard and ordered it to be torn down. D.W. Griffith discovered that he had run out of money and was therefore unable to finance its demolition. The set stood derelict and crumbling for nearly four years until it was finally taken down in 1919. By then it had fallen apart enough for it to be dismantled at a sufficiently low cost. The marriage scenes in the life-of-Christ part of the film were staged and shot according to Jewish tradition, under the supervision of Rabbi Myers. He was the father of Carmel Myers, who played a slave girl in the Babylonian scenes. During filming of the battle sequences, many of the extras got so into their characters that they caused real injury to each other. At the end of one shooting day, a total of sixty injuries were treated at the production's hospital tent. A major sub-plot, dealing with a real-life assassination, was cut from the French story before the film's release. The role of the second Pharisee is credited to Erich von Stroheim. However, von Stroheim did not play this role. D.W. Griffith decided to use von Stroheim's name as a pseudonym for actor William Courtright, who actually plays the role. This has caused much confusion over the years. Von Stroheim's only work on this film was as a production assistant for the Babylon sequences. Ruth St. Denis is listed by some modern sources as the Solo Dancer in the Babylonian Story, but she has denied this in an interview. D.W. Griffith was forced to re-shoot the sequence of the crucifixion because certain organizations were saying that Griffith shot too many Jewish extras around the cross, and not enough Romans. Griffith then burned the footage and re-shot the scene with more Roman extras. Jenkins and his foundation are modeled after John D. Rockefeller and his own foundation. The massacre of workers at the beginning of the movie is modeled after the Ludlow massacre of 1914, in which Rockefeller was involved. Joseph Henabery was hired to shoot some additional scenes of semi-nude slavegirls when the front office declared that the film needed "more sex". The title and some lines from the poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" by Walt Whitman are used as intertitles in the movie. The intertitle during the strike which states that the National Guard has retreated and the workers "now fear only the company guards" was added to the re-release of the modern story, The Mother and the Law, but it is utilized by present versions of the original film. The Babylonian orgy sequence alone cost $200,000 when it was shot. That's nearly twice the overall budget of The Birth of a Nation, another D.W. Griffith film and, at the time, the record holder for most expensive picture ever made. 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, the scene that Brown describes is not in any surviving versions. D.W. Griffith's penchant for revising and re-cutting his films has caused the loss of several scenes from this (and other) films. Some still frames of the scenes, although badly damaged, do at least survive. On 9 November 2001, the newly-built Kodak Theatre Complex at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland (in Hollywood) had its grand opening (it is the new permanent home for the Annual Academy Awards event and began with the 74th Annual Academy Awards on 24 March 2002). The tall archway standing in the Babylon Court of the complex is copied from designs from this film, as are the elephant statues, each of which weighs 33,500 pounds. The prison chaplain in the modern scenes is played by a real priest. D.W. Griffith invested more than $2 million on the film, an unprecedented amount of money at the time. "Intolerance" never even came close to earning back its budget - audiences in 1916 were completely unused to seeing films which ran in excess of 3 hours. Even when it was re-cut and released as 2 separate features, "The Fall of Babylon" and "The Mother and the Law", it still failed to make money. 2007: The American Film Institute ranked this as the #49 Greatest Movie of All Time. During the late 1910's, this film was a huge hit in the Soviet Union, however D.W. Griffith never realized any financial gain since the copies being shown were pirated, and distributed without his consent. The construction of the prison gallows seen in the final portion of the Modern Story were overseen by Martin Aguerre, a former warden of San Quentin. Many sources claim that the walls of Babylon were actually life-size, at 300 feet - about 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. The extras in the Babylonian scenes were supposedly paid $2.00 a day, per head, an astronomically generous sum at the time. They were also each given a box lunch and had temporary latrine facilities built for them. The staging and art direction of the Babylonian scenes were largely inspired by the works of 19th century painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Anita Loos claimed that, when writing 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' she had been inspired to give lead character Lorelei Lee a brief movie career after watching her friends on the set of Intolerance playing Babylonian slave girls. Howard Gaye, an English actor who played Jesus Christ, got involved in a sex scandal involving a 14-year-old girl and was deported back to England. Because of the scandal, his name was removed from prints of the film at the time. D.W. Griffith invented false eyelashes for this film in 1916 because he wanted Seena Owen (who plays Attarea, the Princess Beloved, in the film's Babylonian segment) with lashes luxurious enough to brush her cheeks when she blinked. In collaboration with a wigmaker, who did the actual fabricating, the solution Griffith is credited with involved weaving human hair through a fine strip of gauze, creating false eyelashes. One of the intertitles is a quote from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" by Oscar Wilde i.e. 'And wondered if each one of us/ Would end the self-same way,/ For none can tell to what red Hell/ His sightless soul may stray'. Including among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider. Goofs: Anachronisms: Tire tracks during the chariot race sequence.
Continuity: The position of the Mountain Girl's head when Belshazzar arrives at the marriage market. In one shot her head is bowed, in the next, she is looking up at him, and in the shot after that, her head is still bowed and then she looks up at him. 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. During the Babylonian bacchanal, the same extra, dressed as a slave girl, is standing behind both Belshazzar and Beloved. She is looking in different directions and has her arms in different positions in each shot. In the modern story, when Jenkins stops outside the dance hall, he picks up a coin in one hand. In the next shot (a close-up of the coin), it is in the opposite hand. In the scene where Monsieur La France is shown with the puppies in his belt 'pocket', the long shot shows his arms in the air, but the next close shot shows a hand under the 'pocket' the puppies are in, and then cuts back to him with his hands in the air. Crew or equipment visible: Director's assistant clad in coat and tie. As the Jenkin's factory militia goes to attack the striking workers, the shadows of a camera and two cameramen, one on either side, are cast onto the ground in front. Camera shaddow durring the tracking shot of the walls of Babylon, right before the Mountain Girl is introduced. Factual errors: Alexandre Édouard de France (later King Henry III) is referred to as "Monsieur La France," when he should be called "Monsieur de France."
Revealing mistakes: An extra out of character, fumbling with his costume, in the Belshazzar feast sequence. While the vestal virgins of uplift are at the party given by Ms. Jenkins, and are indoors the whole time, the feathers on their hats flutter and their dresses are blown as if by a breeze. This sort of thing occurs in numerous indoor scenes throughout the film, since interiors were shot on outdoor sets.
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.
Plot keywords:  Intolerance; Reformer; Jesus Christ; Marriage; Huguenot; Judea; Massacre;  Auction; Moll; Gang; Desecration; Prison;  Elephant; Robbery;  False Accusation Of Murder; Royalty; Strike; Child Custody; Frame Up; Battle; Gangster; Nurse; Political Corruption; Female Nudity; Hanging; Father Son Relationship; Charity;   High Priest; Flirtation; Harem; Torch; Naivety; Gun;  Gay Stereotype; Confession Of Crime; Drunkenness; Trial; Chase; Metaphor; Factory Worker; Infanticide; Priest;  Flamethrower; Justice; Governor; Train; Duplicity; Court;  Partially Lost Film; Treachery;  Tyranny; Attempted Rape; Remorse; Protestant; Wedding; Rehabilitation; Worker; Actor Playing Multiple Roles; 16th Century; Machine Gun; Public Domain; Marriage Proposal; Goat; 6th Century B.c.; Beating; Jerusalem; Military Invasion; Orgy; Goose; Sword Fight; Galalee; Execution; Factory; Miracle; Slave Market; Multiple Story Line; Murder; Dance; Decapitation; Conspiracy;  Father Daughter Relationship; Militia; Jealousy; Organized Crime; Police; Crucifixion; Religious Persecution; Morality; Crossbow; Babylon Babylonia; Mill; Injustice; Adultery; Hypocrisy; Saved From Hanging; Poverty; Hypocrite; Jew; Chicken; Multiple Time Frames; Parade; Infidelity; Concubine; Paris France; Slave; Dancing; Chariot; Impalement; Prayer; Great Wall; Medicis; Suicide; Dancing On Table; Kiss; Usurper; Debutante; Self Sacrifice; Spinster; Dead Body; Catholic; Feast; Slum; Party.
A poor young woman is separated from her baby and husband by prejudice. Her story is interwoven with three other stories of intolerance - one in ancient Babylon, one in Judea, where the hypocritical Pharisees condemn Jesus Christ and one in 1572 Paris where a young couple prepare for marriage on the day of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. two young Huguenots prepare for marriage.

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