dir. D.W. Griffith

TIFF Cinematheque - Hollywood Classics

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D.W. Griffith's colossal, centuries-spanning spectacle is one of the most influential films in the history of cinema.


"One of the two or three most influential films ever made, and I think it is also the greatest" (Pauline Kael). Griffith's colossal spectacle has proven his most enduring film, its vast influence extending from Eisenstein and to Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais, who had the film in mind while writing the script for Hiroshima mon amour (screening this season in our series A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva). Four parallel stories, greatly separated by time and linked by an image of Lillian Gish watching over a cradle as the embodiment of Eternal Motherhood, cohere thematically as an illustration of the persistence of intolerance throughout history: a Babylonian tale of religious rivalry; a Biblical account of Christ's crucifixion; a Renaissance-set story about the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Huguenots; and a "modern" American tale about the struggle between ruthless capitalists and striking workers. Full of lavish sets — the hall for Belshazzar's feast broke records for size and cost — and exciting camerawork, intense lyricism and humanist sentiment (reportedly in response to the attacks on The Birth of a Nation), Intolerance fully earns its vaunted reputation. "For the sheer generating of suspense through crosscutting and action the film's climax hasn't been surpassed" (Jonathan Rosenbaum).

Please note there will be a 10 minute intermission.

Featuring live piano accompaniment by Laura Silberberg.