Saturday, January 28, 2006

Intolerance (1916)

Holy jumpin' 20 storey high sets, my God!

Silent Drama

Starring: Mae Marsh (The Birth Of A Nation), Robert Harron

Directed By: D.W. Griffith (Orphans Of The Storm; Way Down East)

Overview: This epic's lesson is how a woman's love conquers throughout the ages. Whether tragic or lifesaving, these stories include the Huguenots' massacre, The fall of Babylon and a modern day tale.

Acting: There were a few surprises admittedly, but after seeing Lillian Gish in all of D.W. Griffith's other productions I would have liked to see her in this too. Either way, the roles were fine, though oftentimes melodramatic, but what else would you expect from melodrama?
Rating: 7

Cinematography: This was passably fine for the Modern Era, and interesting costumes and such for the Huguenots, but see that picture above? That 10 storey set of Babylon became one of the permanent Hollywood museum fixtures for decades. That chapter, with 3000 extras is so magnificently impressive, and on top of that there's a siege of the town, obviously the inspiration for the final battle of the Lord of the Rings saga. Mindblowing.
Rating: 8

Script: The script had a lot of "This is what we're seeing" rather than dialogue, which I didn't like in Birth of a Nation either. Can't say the dialogue was all that exciting. Oh and they use the word "intolerance" literally upwards of 24 times or something. Yeah, I get the point... Thanks. Disappointing really.
Rating: 4

Plot: Babylon is all excitement all the way through, and the Modern Age story is sweetly frustrating in that "Will they ever get justice?" way. Huguenots? A touch confusing. Overall? Way too long. Audiences at the time thought so as well. This one didn't do too well at box offices.
Rating: 6

Mood: The lengthy rendition kills the mood a lot, and the jumping from tale to tale, though important thematically (all climaxes climax at the same time), make for a pretty boring first half (except for the first failed Babylonian siege, which is awesome). As for how the mood holds up for it's own genre, it's considered a classic so I'll give it that... It sure is Epic Silent, so if you're really into that, go nuts.
Rating: 6

Holy frikken hours of tedium, my God...

Overall Rating: 62% (Uh, Let's Just Say 'Appropriate Title', Shall We?)

Aftertaste: As silent films go, I see the impact, but as entertainment value, I would never dare suggest that anyone see this. The only time I would ask someone "Have you seen Intolerance?" would be to gauge how hardcore someone's repertoire is, because if you sit through the 3 hours of this film, you're hardcore, like me :P