Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
Intolerance and its terrible effects are examined in four historical eras. In ancient Babylon, a mountain girl is caught up in the religious rivalry that leads to the city's downfall. In Judea, the hypocritical Pharisees condemn Jesus Christ. In 1572 Paris, unaware of the impending St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, two young Huguenots prepare for marriage. Finally, in modern America, social reformers destroy the lives of a young woman and her beloved. Written by
Erik Gregersen <email@example.com>
Constance Talmadge is credited as 'Georgia Pearce' for her performance as Marguerite de Valois in the French Story. She is credited under her own name in the role of The Mountain Girl in the Babylonian Story. See more »
I was kinda forced into watching this film having started reading through 'American Silent Film' by William Everson (a very good book, I hasten to add on, er, well the title says it all) and encountering an entire chapter on, first, 'Birth of a Nation' (which I duly watched) and, then, 'Intolerance'.
I was already a fan of the Silent Screen so I approached it with a great amount of expectation, especially as Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish were in it whose performances in 'Birth' I thought were two of the finest I'd seen in silent movies.
However, in my opinion, the film is as poor as 'Birth' is brilliant.
Sure, there are a great amount of high spots when you look at film technique (such as the moving camera in part two that zooms in over the heads of the crowds - and the grand sets of Babylon are stunning to say the least) but the film is a mishmash of ideas that are forced into employment as examples of 'Intolerance' when you could view alternate characters as equally displaying the trait.
The film started life as the 'Modern Story only' prior to 1916 which was then used as the basis to have the other two main and one rather sketchy story cut into it (the Jesus narrative is, to be honest, not a story but a series of excerpts from the life which support the other three stories at certain points). To me, it shows - it's just *too* chaotic a film to be enjoyable (even by 1916 standards).
A couple of other points - Mae Marsh's performance is semi-decent although there appears to be a bit too much over-dramatisation at points while Constance Talmadge's character (the Babylonian Mountain Girl) although sometimes implausible is a nice humorous insertion (I used to know a girl like that!).
Why Griffith gave Lillian Gish the sole acting role of rocking a cradle throughout the film with no other input, I can't imagine (there must've been some good reason for it) as her acting ability was, for me, the highlight of 'Birth'.
If you're a movie-buff, this film is a must-see. Don't miss it! But, like me, you may wonder 'Why?'.
One lighter point - did anyone notice that where the train stops is the same place that Keaton used in 'The Goat' for the shot of him riding the train?
15 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?