“Intolerance” is a groundbreaking silent film directed by D.W. Griffith and released in 1916. It is an epic historical drama that intertwines four separate stories from different time periods to explore the destructive nature of intolerance throughout history.
The film features four distinct narratives set in different eras: the fall of Babylon, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 16th-century France, and a modern-day story about social injustice and capital punishment.
In the Babylonian segment, a tyrannical king exploits and oppresses his people, leading to a rebellion and the eventual fall of the city. The crucifixion segment portrays the story of Jesus Christ, highlighting religious intolerance and persecution. The French segment showcases the religious conflicts and violence during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, demonstrating the horrors caused by religious intolerance. The modern-day story follows a young couple whose lives are impacted by the injustice of the legal system, emphasizing social and class intolerance.
Through these interconnected stories, Griffith presents a powerful commentary on the destructive consequences of intolerance, exploring themes of social injustice, religious persecution, and the cyclic nature of history. The film emphasizes the need for understanding, empathy, and acceptance in order to break the cycle of intolerance.
“Intolerance” is renowned for its ambitious scope, its innovative storytelling techniques, and its elaborate production design. It remains a significant milestone in cinematic history and a thought-provoking exploration of the timeless issue of intolerance.
Hettie Grey Baker, Tod Browning, D.W. Griffith
Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh