One Paragraph Movie Review: Intolerance

Two hundred and sixty-third film: Intolerance, an intolerably long 1916 silent film that I skipped through a lot of the melodramatic facial expressions of. Made by D.W. Griffiths who also made the highly controversial The Birth of a Nation, the constantly hammered-home message that intolerance ruins lives and civilisations really gets in the way of a handful of good crime yarns and battle scenes. The movie tells four parallel stories, set in Babylon, Paris, Judea, and modern America, all at different historically-significant times. The modern American story is the most compelling, with a young married couple facing mean treatment, baby-stealing and incarceration by a snooty reform charity, and a last-minute reprieve from the hangman’s gallows. But the other three stories — impenetrable as they are — are saved by their absolutely jaw-dropping sets and costumes. These things are properly ridiculous and over-the-top, and worth the price of admission alone (I watched it for free on YouTube). I can freely acknowledge that it would have been stunning at the time it was made, and be comfortable being bored with it now. It’s worth reading about and looking at the stills from it, end of sentence. Two sparkly Babylonian bodices out of five.

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