After shaking the world with his hugely controversial epic 'The Birth of a Nation', pioneer filmmaker D. W. Griffith spared no expense in putting together his next project: a powerful examination of intolerance as it has persisted throughout civilisation, set across four parallel storylines that span 2500 years. There is the Babylonian story, depicting nothing less than the fall of Babylon; the Judean story, which revolves around the crucifixion of Christ; the French story, which presents the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in all its horror; and a modern American story of class struggle, crime, and the plight of life in the early 20th century set within urban slums and the prison system. Starring such luminaries as Lillian Gish, Constance Talmadge, and Miriam Cooper, who share screentime with an enormous main cast and some 3,000 extras, Griffith's film - the most expensive motion picture ever produced at the time - went on to become a critical success whose influence has only grown in the decades since.
Carl Davis's orchestral score in stereo and 5.1 soundtracks
Griffith's companion feature films 'The Fall of Babylon' and 'The Mother and the Law', expanding upon these two storylines from 'Intolerance', presented in high-definition with new stereo scores by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
A video interview with preservationist and historian Kevin Brownlow
This is a great screen classic not to be missed by anyone seriously interested in cinema. Griffiths was a pioneer who established epic film making which set an agenda for the following fifty years.
However, the version of Intolerance on the DVD that I have just returned is atrocious and would have made Griffiths weep! This was a big budget film with superb photography and a special musical score to be played accompanying the silent film when released in 1916. I have seen and heard this twice over the years and can vouch for the fact that it easily matched all cinematography until the 1960s. The DVD however is an utter travesty: in many places the wrong projection speed has been used, the picture quality is mostly soot and whitewash and almost certainly this version has been taken from an old scratched exhibition print with appalling loss in quality. The titles in many parts are unreadable and the musical accompaniment is entirely unrelated to the action on screen.
What a shame, this is a masterpiece ruined by Philistines who understand nothing about film history and should never have been issued in such a manner: it will only alienate viewers and underline the prejudices of those who like to ridicule silent film.