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3.2 out of 5 stars25
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 26 March 2010
Great, great film. Terrible, terrible DVD.
Substandard visuality... No restoration... Painful to watch even if you're not hi-definition blue-ray freak...
VHS with this level of quality would be unacceptable, not to speak of DVD.
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on 17 February 2001
D.W. Griffith's previous great 'Birth of a Nation' had aroused such controversy that he decided to fight back. Intolerance is a superb piece of filmmaking and one that I most strongly recommend to all true lovers of the cinema. The lesson is made in four stories: The first story is of how the Priest of Bel betrays Belshazzar in ancient Babylon, with the final conclusion being the savage destruction of the great city. The battle scenes more than rival those of Ben Hur, Alexander the Great or any other tale of heroism in old times. The second story is that of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and of those who allowed it to happen. This story is not explored upon much and is given less treatment than the other three, although its impact remains potent. The third story takes place in renaissance France, where the Catholics slaughter the Protestants. The massacre is more violent than one would expect from a film of 1916, and despite its rather crude delivery, it still manages to shock and appal. The final story is set in what was then the modern world. A group of women fighting for decency and a proper society reduce life to a boring and monotonous existence. A man is to be hanged for a murder committed by one of the women who does not confess and when she finally does, a gang of men rush to save the boy just in time. All these stories are linked by an image of Lillian Gish rocking a cradle, symbolic of the innocence she protects.
Intolerance is extremely meaningful and poignant with good performances and shocking moments throughout. Its breathtaking sets and scenes are enough to keep anyone entertained, and this film comes to a superb climax four times. However, it also has to set the scene for four different stories which makes the first forty minutes very dull, but stick with it as it improves.
Griffith could hardly hope to match the brilliance of The Birth of A Nation which was released a year before this, but this film alone is enough to make him worthy of remembrance.
Eureka Videos has done a superb job in restoring this great film. Of the three silent films I owned before this (Nosferatu, Phantom of the Opera and Metropolis) all were badly in need of restoration, which reduced the viewing pleasure. The picture quality is very clean and adds to the experience. The film is also tinted for those of you who prefer a more colourful look, I however do not and always turn off the colour on my TV with tinted films, either have it in colour or in black and white is what I say.
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on 15 February 2012
Having seen this great film with live music during a Thames Silents festival, I was keen to obtain a copy of this film. However, the film is entirely ruined by the appalling quality of the DVD. The pictures shown on the box are clear and give the impression this is a restored, quality print. In fact, it proved impossible to watch. The many lines and graininess of the print are bad enough but the real killer are the white captions over a brighter flickering light in the centre of the screen which gave us all a headache and forced us to stop watching after only ten minutes.

I can recommend this film but DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS VERSION.
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on 13 April 2007
Imagine that Steven Spielberg was no longer directing movies and that WAR OF THE WORLDS would be the one film he is remembered for. Would that be a fair assessment of his career? Absolutely not but that is what has happened to cinema pioneer D.W. Griffith. The film he is remembered for today is the 1915 BIRTH OF A NATION which was the first important American epic. Unfortunately its source material THE CLANSMAN (the film's original title) is a Southern view of the Civil War which glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and is extremely racist (although toned down considerably from the book by Thomas Dixon). Griffith made 34 feature films and over 400 shorts between 1908 and 1931. In the overwhelming majority of these he is a social progressive tackling such issues as poverty, political corruption, worker exploitation and interracial romance. He even made an anti-Klan film THE ROSE OF KENTUCKY back in 1912. I mention all of this because in this current climate of political correctness Griffith is being judged and censured on the basis of one film as opposed to his whole body of work and the damage being done to his reputation is still going on. In the recent Oscar nominated film JUNEBUG, one of the characters is a Southern racist Civil War painter who happens to be named David Wark (the D.W. in Griffith's name).

INTOLERANCE, the follow-up to NATION, was the most ambitious and expensive film ever made up to that point (1916) and forever changed the way that movies would be made after it. Because of the lifesize sets of Ancient Babylon and the thousands of extras employed, the movie would cost over $500 million to remake today. Its central theme shows how intolerance through the ages breeds anger, anger then breeds repression and repression breeds more intolerance. Set in four different historical time periods (including then present day 1916), the film shifts back and forth from story to story with ever increasing frequency until it reaches its dramatic climax followed by a fanciful epilogue of what the world would be like if we could only banish our fear and hatred. Virtually every visual film technique you can think of appeared in this film inspiring filmmakers around the world who quickly followed suit. After 90 years it still remains a wonder to be seen. There are several different versions of INTOLERANCE currently available on DVD. This Eureka edition follows Griffith's reissue wishes for the film and has the added bonus of allowing you to separate the four stories so they can be viewed by themselves. AVOID at all costs all the low budget DVDs of this cinematic milestone as they are of inferior visual quality and have uncoordinated sound accompaniment. It's time once again to give D.W. Griffith his due and this is the place to start. Follow this up with his BIOGRAPH shorts and then some of his features such as BROKEN BLOSSOMS or SALLY OF THE SAWDUST and see just what he was capable of. Griffith's wheel of fortune has come full circle a number of times and will continue to do so. That is the measure of a true artist.
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on 5 August 2009
The DVD cover says "Colossal Spectacle" and, if anything, it is an understatement. Films if this type simply aren't made any more at 2 and 3/4 hours it examines the deep subject of man's intolerance to his fellow man through time in four historic settings (Babylon, 1st century Judea, 16th century Paris and "Boom" America in the early 1900's.)The cinematography is excellent and often sumptuous especially Babylon, the largest film set ever constructed and it's staggering "zoom in" sequences. It isn't so much a "Movie" as a moving (in both senses) work of art! Some of the acting, especially Paris and the US is a little "hammy" while some of the performances are tender and full of sentiment, seen well in the many close up shots all of which add to the piece.
This version is of good , if not brilliant quality, sometimes the (sub?)titles are barely visible, especially the white on "book background" ones (more expensive "re-conitioned" versions are availible, but in my opinion, a little "rawness with age" is no bad thing and adds context and a certain authenticity.) Overall detail and context are still clear enough but at the very reasonable price paid, one cannot quibble! This staggering masterpiece should be watched by all fans of modern cinema with it's "same old" computer generated effects and formula "acting" and see how it should be done, and how it indeed was done in 1916. The Babylon sequences are simply stunning.
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For his follow-up to (and, some suggest, apology for) Birth of a Nation, D. W. Griffith was not content to merely make another epic but rolled four epics into one to create his 'Sun-Play of the Ages.' At the time, many of its innovations were rejected by public and critics alike (many complained that the tracking shots brought on dizziness) and its reputation has suffered more from the subsequent mindless repetition of the 'accepted opinion' by people who have not actually seen it than its own failings. Taken on its own merits, these are far outweighed by its achievements.

The project grew out of the section that would become The Mother and the Law, later released as a separate feature, in which an industrialist cuts the wages of his employees by 10% to finance a moral crusade ("They squeeze the money out of us and use it to advertise themselves by reforming us" cries a surprisingly sympathetically depicted union man). In the resulting strike the troops are called in, with the ensuing deaths throwing the families of two of his workers into desperation and crime. Alongside this are three other tales of intolerance through the ages; the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Huguenots in 16th Century France; the death of Christ; and, with little relevance but mighty spectacle, the fall of Babylon. Linking them all is Lillian Gish, rocking a child through the cradle of the ages.

Griffith's brand of sentimentality is sometimes hard to take, especially with character names like Brown Eyes and The Little Dear One. The final scene of soldiers throwing down their weapons and prison bars replaced by fields of flowers seem particularly over-optimistic when viewed in its context of a world at war by the time the film was released in 1916, and some sequences have dated in the worst way: he Sacred Dance in memory of the resurrection of Tammuz in the Temple of Love is a surreal cross between the Charleston and Monty Python, while its orgy scenes seem an obvious inspiration for De Mille's later excesses. But amid the miscalculations there are a few astonishingly natural moments and performances.

The cross-cutting between the stories is the film's boldest stroke, although not always successful due to their varying quality and relevance. The French and Judean episodes come off worst, the latter being a series of dreary tableaux where the only interest is trying to spot future directors Erich Von Stroheim and Todd Browning. Despite the fame and cinematic sweep of the Babylonian story, it's the modern story, with its genuine sense of outrage that is the best and most powerful of the quartet. After a rather over-sentimental start, as an example of the filmmaker's art it's a work of genius with few equals in early silent cinema.

Intolerance is still a great cinematic experience that has much to recommend it, although you do have to b e careful which version you pick up with so many public domain versions available - many cut or even transferred at the wrong speed. Eureka's UK DVD is the best available to date and even offers the ability to play each of the four stories in their entirety as separate movies.
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on 20 November 2007
good film, not one of the greats, but merely a history lesson. but avoid nevertheless. the quality is appalling, and it would seem no restoration has occured. scenes and characters are barely recognisable and the picture is grainy and just awful to endure. buy a better edition.
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on 5 August 2011
This is one of the great films of history (and I can say that having seen it in film shown on screen by William K. Everson in New York in the 1960s). However, this is a "cheapo" unrestored print, a flickery and often damaged print in which the music bears next to no relation to what is happening on screen at the time. It is better than nothing, but can never be a real substitute for a fully restored version of it. Elstree Hill, as several reviewers have remarked, have done little here. Better this than nothing; however, if a decent restoration were to be found (as with "Birth of a Nation") than I would gladly donate this to Oxfam.
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on 7 June 2013
There's a reason why this is so cheap and that is the truly awful quality of the transfer. Companies which ruin films like this should be struck off. This is the third of three Elstree Hill releases I was foolish enough to buy. Do not be suckered in as I was. I also wish Amazon.com would show reviews that pertain only to the product as pictured. The more people avoid these cheapo companies, the more they will buy the quality releases from companies such as Eureka!/Masters of Cinema. These may be expensive, but believe me, they are worth it!
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D W Griffith was provoked into creating Intolerance by the substantial numbers of vocal protesters against his incredibly successful 1915 film "Birth of a Nation".
Intolerance is actually four films set at different periods in history supposedly illustrating the evils of intolerance, and we are cut from one film to another throughout the three hours running time.
Fortunately the DVD permits us to view each film separately, and after an initial viewing as Griffith intended I think this is the way to go.
Griffith's extraordinary concept was beyond the understanding of critics in 1916, and as a result audiences stayed away in droves and the film was probably one of the two greatest box flops in film history, it was sixty four years before the second one in 1980 "Heavens Gate".
However history belies the fact that "Intolerance" includes two excellent feature length films (subsequently released separately), "The Mother and the Law" set in 1916" and "The Fall of Babylon" set in Old Testament times, and two shorts, a French story set in 1592 about the massacre of the Huguenots, and a very fragmentary Judean short about the crucifixion.
"The Mother and the Law" stars Mae Marsh and Robert Harron excellent as a couple whose lives are destroyed in a drama about a group of wealthy "do gooder" women.
"The Fall of Babylon" is a biblical epic with sets of awesome magnitude and a cast of thousands, starring Constance Talmadge (sister of Norma Talmadge) who steals the acting honours as the feisty "Mountain Girl" from Alfred Paget as Belshazzar and Seena Owen as his Princess.
The "French Story" is a competent short of the time, and the "Judean" story is probably best forgotten.
So two excellent silent films (in very good transfers from a good but not perfect source) for the price of one plus an offbeat piece of cinematic history as well.
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