is a 1916 film, directed by D.W. Griffith
, with four stories about mankind's intolerance. Each story takes place in a separate time and place in world history. Rather than being told sequentially, the film constantly cuts from one story to another, establishing moral and psychological links between all of them — effectively telling all four stories in parallel.
It was made in direct response to D.W. Griffith's previous film, The Birth of a Nation
. Reportedly, Griffith had no idea that The Birth Of A Nation
was based off a racist retelling of history until it was pointed out to him, and was horrified at what he had presented and how he was now perceived. However, the film itself is not specifically about race relations.The four stories are:
- "The Fall of Babylon", 539 BC, depicting a holy war between worshipers of different gods.
- The Crucifixion of Jesus, 27 AD
- The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, 1572 AD
- "The Mother and the Law", 1914 AD, depicting crime, moral puritanism, and conflicts between capitalists and striking workers in America, causing hardship and suffering to those caught in the crossfire
The original concept was to give equal time to all four stories, but that would have made for an even longer film that the massive product Griffith eventually released. The St. Bartholomew's Day story was cut shorter and the Jesus story was cut even more than that; the finished film gives considerably more attention to the modern-day "Mother and the Law" story and the Babylon story than the other two.
Some of the architecture from the film's Hall of Babylon scene has been recreated at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles
According to Lillian Gish's memoir, Griffith performed Executive Meddling
by reediting the film several times after its release, cutting the even more from the French and Judean stories and adding more Babylon material after Griffith realized that the Babylon segment was the most popular. "The Fall of Babylon" and "The Mother and the Law" were eventually reissued as standalone features with additional scenes shot. It's unlikely that the original version of Intolerance
will ever be restored since most of the footage edited out of the film after its initial release has been lost.