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Intolerance [Blu-ray] [Import]

 Unrated   Blu-ray

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Product Details

  • Format: Silent, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • Release Date: Nov. 5 2013
  • ASIN: B00EVU3SO0

Product Description

In this cinematic milestone, director D.W. Griffith utilized enormous sets and thousands of extras in order to stage his cinematic exploration of Intolerance and its terrible effects throughout history from Ancient Babylon and Biblical Judea to Medieval Paris and Modern America. Bonus Features: Two full features The Fall of Babylon and Mother and the Law accompanied by new scores by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. 2013 bonus featurette with historian Kevin Brownlow. New essays by Cineaste editor Richard Porton and historian William M. Drew. Theatrical re-release trailer. Silent with English Title Cards.

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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cohen Media Blu-ray looks and sounds the best, but still not as complete as Image DVD Nov. 12 2013
By keviny01 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
D.W. Griffith's 1916 historical epic weaves four stories of intolerance that occur in the past and present: the fall of Babylon in ancient times, the crucifixion of Christ, St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in the 16th Century, and class struggle and injustice in the modern times. Running about 3 hours in most editions, this ambitious, pioneering American silent classic not only has plenty of big-scale set pieces -- a shootout during a labor strike, violent Babylonian battles, a car-train chase scene, etc. -- but it is also a groundbreaking artistic triumph in its bold intercutting of the 4 stories that serves to enhance each story and compliment one another. The film's final 30 minutes is a rapid intercutting of the 4 climaxes of the stories that is thrilling to watch. Not to mention, the film has possibly the most famous shot in all of silent cinema, an aerial view of the palace of Belshazzar. "Intolerance" is one of the earliest and also one of the best films ever made, by a director who is often called "The Father of Film".

The new region-free Blu-ray and DVD editions by Cohen Media present the best picture quality ever for this film on home video. The Blu-ray's 1080p picture is remarkably clean, stable, and free of flickers. Some footage still looks worse than others. But the good-looking scenes look quite stunning in terms of details and clarity. Originally restored by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill in 1989, the film was given a further restoration by Cohen Media, resulting in this new Blu-ray and DVD. The music accompaniment by Carl Davis is also, in my opinion, the best score ever used for the film. Davis' majestic orchestral music is a great fit for the epic scenes, and it does a great job highlighting a lot of the dramatic nuances in more personal moments as well.

There have been many revisions made to "Intolerance" over the years, some by director D.W. Griffith himself up until 1926, and some by unauthorized foreign distributors. Nowadays, many believe that the 1926 version represents Griffith's final cut. In 1990, restorer David Shepard created a version of the film based on this 1926 version, plus footage from older versions when necessary. This restored version was released on DVD by Image in 1999, and is currently the most complete version of the film in terms of the amount of footage available.

Unfortunately, the new Blu-ray/DVD by Cohen Media is less complete than the Image DVD.

The Cohen Media edition is largely identical to the 2002 Kino DVD edition in terms of the footage available. Even though the Kino DVD runs the longest at 197 minutes, it is actually less complete than the Image DVD. Its longer running time is mainly due to its slower, perhaps erroneous film speed. The Cohen Media disc seems to run at a correct speed, thus running shorter at only 168 minutes due to less footage.

Below is a list of some of the footage missing on the Kino and Cohen editions, but is found on the Image DVD:

(1) A closeup shot of the words Jesus wrote on the ground after he rescued the prostitute by saying "he who never sins may cast the first stone." The Kino & Cohen editions show a long shot of him writing something on the ground, but we don't see what exactly he wrote.

(2) A 2-minute scene where Belshazzar rescues the Mountain Girl from being killed by the High Priest of Bel. This scene is found on the Image DVD at 00:46:37.

(3) A long shot of the Babylon castle wall being attacked by Cyrus's towers (found on Image DVD: 1:35:50).

(4) A closer shot of Cyrus's army climbing up to the Babylon castle (Image: 1:37:23). This shot improves continuity of the shots before and after.

(5) An extra shot of Babylonians praying in front of the statue of Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess (Image: 1:37:50). This shot shows a larger group of prayers than the existing, similar shots found on Kino & Cohen editions.

(6) A scene of an old lady offering 3 turnips and a carrot to Ishtar (Image: 1:38:03). This scene is followed by grisly killings of Babylonian soldiers, showing the futility of the old woman's prayer.

(7) Another shot of Babylonians in front of Ishtar's statue (Image: 1:38:30). This shot is similar to No. (5) above.

(8) A closeup of a severed head of a dead soldier (Image: 1:40:30). This corresponds nicely with a later shot of a soldier getting decapitated.

(9) A closeup of The Mountain Girl looking terrified during the battle (Image: 1:42:26). This shot shows the horror of the battle is finally getting to the previously fearless woman.

(10) A shot of an exhausted woman worker collapsing and dying (Image: 1:43:03). The Image disc also has a title card identifying the "Woman aid worker". The Kino & Cohen editions are missing both the shot and the title card.

(11) A somewhat comical shot of a Babylonian soldier getting speared in his buttocks after he decapitated an enemy (Image: 1:44:12). Here, Griffith might have intended to "soften" the horror of the decapitation with a little comedy.

(12) The "justice and restoration" segment that shows a happy ending involving The Dear One's baby (Image: 2:53:41). Some believe Griffith's final intention was to NOT have the happy ending. My feeling is that I prefer to have a loose end tied up.

Note that most of my observations occur in the first Babylon battle. There may be a lot more missing shots that I missed.

All this missing footage may help explain why the Image DVD runs 178 minutes and the Cohen edition only 168 minutes.

Also, these missing shots are not just extraneous footage that can be discarded. They serve useful purposes in the storytelling. On the Image DVD, there is a "visual essay" by film historian Russell Merritt, who writes that a lot of thought has been put into the inclusion and exclusion of footage. Based on my viewing, the Image edition is indeed more satisfying in terms of content.

Unfortunately, the Image DVD, first released in 1999, has the worst picture quality of the 3 editions since it was sourced from 16-millimeter material. The picture is also quite severely cropped on the edges, to the point that the director's initials "DG" at the bottom of each title card are sometimes partially cut off.

The 2002 Kino DVD was made from a 35mm print and therefore looks much better as a result. The Cohen edition shows greater visual improvement still.

Despite the missing footage, both the Kino and Cohen editions have one crucial scene that is NOT on the Image disc. It occurs when the Friendless One is about to fire a gun at the Musketeer due to jealousy. The Kino and Cohen versions show that she suddenly has a flashback to the time she met The Boy, making her hesitant to fire the gun. We see her trembling hands and nervous expression, showing that she clearly struggles with the idea of committing a murder. This dramatic moment is NOT on the Image DVD, ironically, even though the Image disc is otherwise more complete. The Image edition simply shows her firing the gun mercilessly and without hesitation.

Incidentally, Cohen's version also has some footage that is not found on either Image or Kino disc. Early in the film, the Cohen disc shows one of the reformers saying (via a title card), "We must have laws that make people good!" This is followed by a couple of shots of the workers drinking and dancing. The Image and Kino discs don't have this title card nor the shots of the workers. During the film's epilogue segment, I notice a couple of shots not present in other editions as well.

In 2007, Danish Film Institute had its own restoration of "Intolerance", and that resulted in yet another DVD edition, released in Region-2 PAL format in 2010 by French publisher Diaphana. Even though this DVD has terrific picture quality (second only to Cohen's edition), this edition is the least complete of all the editions, and is even less complete than the Kino and Cohen discs. Unforgivably, it bungles up the editing during the climax of the modern story. But remarkably, it also has footage not present in other editions. I have seen the DVD, and noticed quite a few alternate takes, such as the scene where the Boy "sets his steps on the straight road", which shows him praying more sincerely than he does in other editions.

So, in short:

(1) The Image DVD from 1999, while having the worst picture quality, is the most complete of all versions in terms of the amount of footage available.
(2) The French DVD from 2010, while having terrific picture quality (2nd only to the Cohen Blu-ray), is the least complete of all versions in terms of the amount of footage available.
(3) The Kino DVD from 2002, while having the longest running time, is not as complete as the Image DVD, but not as INcomplete as the French DVD.
(4) The Cohen edition from 2013 has largely identical footage as the Kino DVD.
(5) Each edition has footage not found in other editions.

---

The Cohen Media edition comes with a second disc containing bonus features. There is a 19-minute interview with restorer Kevin Brownlow, who is too modest to point out that his 1989 restoration of the film was the basis of Cohen Media's edition. Brownlow touches on the significance of the film, the extraordinary making of an epic, and recalls from first-hand knowledge his meetings with those who worked on the film, such as film editor James Smith. The interview is also sprinkled with production photos and film clips as well.

Also included are two "spin-off" movies made by Griffith in 1919, shown for the first time ever on home video and presented in 1080p to boot. Both spin-off films are sourced from unrestored prints with print damages, flickers, and unsteady frames.

"The Mother and the Law" is a re-edited and expanded version of the modern story in "Intolerance". This untinted 100-minute film looks like upconverted HD at times. By my estimate, it has almost half hour of extra footage compared to the version in "Intolerance", and that is not all good news. Some of the extra stuff feels like filler material. We see a scene of The Dear One visiting The Boy at the prison. Then another scene of her visiting him at the prison. We see an extended scene of her practicing the "sexy walk". Then another scene of her practicing some more. Notable added footage includes a courtroom scene of her fighting for her baby's custody. We also learn of the fate of the baby at the end (the lack of which leaves a loose end in Kino and Cohen's presentations of "Intolerance").

The 63-minute "The Fall of Babylon", also untinted, is much better-looking in 1080p, with more visible details and finer grain. Sadly, it is also an inferior version to the one shown in "Intolerance". It opens with an alternate take of the Boy flirting with the Mountain Girl, a scene that is so soft and sedate that it strips the Mountain Girl of any personality (perhaps an attempt to make her more feminine?). The battle scenes also lack some of the same missing footage I mentioned earlier in my review: the severed head shot, the old woman's offering to Ishtar, etc. Most disappointingly, it doesn't even have the signature aerial shot of Belshazzar's palace where the camera descends from the air all the way to ground level. Added footage includes a much improved scene of the Mountain Girl peering into the palace to catch a glimpse of Belshazzar; we see a frontal closeup of her staring longingly and winking at her beloved king. This cute moment is totally missing in the Image, Kino, and Cohen's edition of "Intolerance". Like "The Mother and the Law", there is added footage that seems like filler. We also get a "happy" ending for The Mountain Girl that may seem a touch less poetic than the one in "Intolerance".
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Restoration For An Epic Motion Picture. Nov. 9 2013
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Someone once asked a friend of mine that if it were possible to time travel, where would he like to travel to? My friend replied "right here and now." "Why?" she queried. He responded with a one word answer,"dentistry". Good point. One might add health care to that as well although the way things are now, who knows? Leaving aside the question of time travel, I would like to say that since I wasn't around during the silent era, I'm happy to be living in a time where new technology makes old technology possible. We now have the opportunity to view silent films as if they were made yesterday. Restorations on films like NOSFERATU, METROPOLIS and more recently WINGS and THE BIG PARADE show how powerful and amazing these films can be when properly presented. You can now add D.W. Griffith's INTOLERANCE to that list. As a silent film enthusiast who teaches courses on silent film at the local college, I have always bemoaned the fact that up until now, no one had bothered with a decent restoration of any of Griffith's films. Part of this is due to the politically correct fallout over the racist content in BIRTH OF A NATION and while the outrage over that film is unfortunate but perfectly understandable, one film does not a filmmaker make especially one as important as Griffith. If a Griffith film was going to be selected than INTOLERANCE is the perfect candidate. Even after almost a century its meaning is still being debated and its influence on the films that followed can be seen as late as the recent sci-fi epic CLOUD ATLAS.

I've had every major video version of INTOLERANCE from the CRITIC'S CHOICE VHS edition that was projected at the wrong speed (too fast it clocked in at a little over 2 hrs) to the recent KINO GRIFFITH MASTERWORKS edition that runs 197 minutes and puts back in every scrap of footage possible. One of the glories of this new restoration is that it is tightly edited so that while Griffith's groundbreaking cross cutting remains, there doesn't seem to be any extraneous footage so that it flows smoothly from one scene to the next. The running time of this version, which doesn't seem to be missing anything, is 2hrs and 47mins. We know that the original was longer but this edition represents the most consistent version that I have ever seen. Then there's the picture quality. Astonishing! I never, ever thought that I would see INTOLERANCE look like this. The wealth of background detail now available in the crystal clear, tinted images is staggering. Just check out the opening Jenkins party scene or the tapestries when the Huguenot sequence is introduced and the literal cast of thousands in the Babylonian sequences. Last and certainly not least, possibly the most important element of all, is Carl Davis' magnificent orchestral score which helps to underscore the images and give them extra meaning just as would have been the case in 1916. This is an edition of INTOLERANCE for the 21st century and beyond. I don't know who funded or supervised the restoration but a very special thanks to the Cohen Group for making it available to the general public.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GRIFFITH'S TALE OF LOVE'S STRUGGLE THROUGH THE AGES DAZZLES IN HD Nov. 5 2013
By Casey62 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
When D.W. Griffith's massive epic INTOLERANCE was released in 1916, it was a commercial failure. This was due in part to its pacifist stand on war at a time when America was at the brink of entering the European conflict, and also because of its complex narrative structure which many people found difficult to follow. Griffith himself spent the rest of his life paying off the debts INTOLERANCE incurred as perhaps the most expensive film ever made. None of these perceived failings matter when viewing the film, which retains all of its power to amaze and move an audience as it did the day it premiered.

Originally planned as a much shorter film that Griffith called THE MOTHER AND THE LAW which dealt with a contemporary setting, the story was expanded to include three other episodes taken from history: the fall of Babylon, the crucifixion of Christ, and the Huguenot massacre. Griffith's innovative plan was to intercut the stories and jump back and forth between them, showing how the same themes of human injustice and intolerance have persisted from earliest times to our modern day. Not only was the narrative structure unconventional and ambitious, but the entire production was mounted on a scale unprecedented in American cinema at that time. Costumes were authentic in every detail, while the sets - particularly the Babylonian wall, gate, and courtyard - were the largest ever built for a movie.

INTOLERANCE features excellent performances by the entire cast which includes Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, Miriam Cooper, Walter Long, Constance Talmadge, Alfred Paget, Seena Owen, Tully Marshall, Margery Wilson, Eugene Pallette and Howard Gaye. Lillian Gish plays the key role of the mother who endlessly rocks the cradle of time, linking all four stories. The film is alternately beautiful, compelling, and disturbing in its vivid imagery and never ceases to fascinate in the way it combines intimate drama with opulent spectacle. As broad as it is in its scope, INTOLERANCE pulsates with passionate emotion. In many ways it is unsurpassed in its attempt to cinematically depict humanity's struggle throughout history. No other film tried to tackle again what Griffith gives us in INTOLERANCE, and that alone is something to admire.

Cohen Media Group's newly restored Blu-ray of this silent masterpiece is a revelation. Scanned at 2K/1080p, the images leap off the screen with remarkable clarity for a movie that's nearly a century old. Over those decades INTOLERANCE has had a frustrating existence with numerous cuts, snippets, alternate takes, and varying projection speeds so that it's virtually impossible to pin down a "definitive" version. This edition has by far the best overall combination of extant footage and image quality consistency, and includes the original tints as per its initial roadshow engagement. The magnificent Carl Davis music score in 5.1 and 2.0 audio adds a new, epic dimension that makes us appreciate even more the power of this film. Extras include the shorter features THE MOTHER AND THE LAW and THE FALL OF BABYLON both with new scores by the Mont Alto Orchestra, a retrospective by historian Kevin Brownlow, the restoration trailer, and a booklet with essays by Richard Porton and William M. Drew.

This extraordinary, influential classic is mandatory viewing for every cinema lover, and I give this outstanding Blu-ray my highest recommendation.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERPIECE REBORN! Dec 1 2013
By E. Hunter Hale - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I discovered this film many years ago as a teenager when I purchased a 8mm copy of the entire film from Blackhawk Films. I could hardly change the 200 foot reels of film fast enough. The film is in a masterwork of early cinema that still thrills and amazes the viewer with Griffith's editing and direction telling four different stories dealing with intolerance through the ages. Cutting back and forth from one story to the other and building to its amazing climax wherein all four stories come to their conclusion.
Later years I purchased INTOLERANCE on a Laser Disc and then on DVD. Now the Cohen Blu-ray transfer brings this almost 100 year old masterpiece to new life with a restoration that is nothing short of amazing! And the Carl Davis orchestra score is perfect.
Not only that but we now have an opportunity to see THE MOTHER AND THE LAW, which Griffith released after INTOLERANCE failed to return its vast production cost. This is the modern story of INTOLERANCE and it features more material then that included in the four story film. I had known about this film for many years but this is the first time that it has been made available to actually see and appreciate. There is also a hour version of THE FALL OF BABYON section of the film that doesn't work quite as well as it was intended to be shown in conjunction with live stage performances intermixed with the showing of the film. But the Mountain Girl (played by Constance Talmadge) who dies in INTOLERANCE is given a happy ending for this version. This is a major Blu-ray release (their DVD release would be excellent also) and one that I would give the highest rating to.
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Restoration Of One Of The Greatest American Films April 1 2014
By Michael P. Ofarrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I wasn't prepared for the incredible restoration work achieved by film historian Kenneth Brownlow and associates on D.W. Griffith's monumental masterwork. Cohen Media Group is to be commended for issuing this long out of print version of "Intolerance", heretofore available only on VHS from HBO VIDEO/THAMES VIDEO COLLECTION. This recent COHEN release features Carl Davis' superb score which only adds to the luster of Griffith's mighty spectacle. Before "Gone With The Wind", "Quo Vadis", "The Ten Commandments", Spartacus", "Lawrence Of Arabia", the Taylor/Burton "Cleopatra", "The Fall Of The Roman Empire","Doctor Zhivago"and "Apocalypse Now", came this 3 hour extravaganza : a combination of drama, pageantry, and often foolhardy chutzpah. "Intolerance" was first greeted by critics as an enormous folly and the moviegoing public of 1916 didn't know what to make of the film's non-linear structure. A financial failure, the movie's reputation as a masterpiece eventually won out over its initial cool reception. "Intolerance" is more admired than loved by most critics but its achievements cannot be denied. Here is a movie nearly a hundred years old that in many ways towers over most movies made in the past, present and for-seeable future. On a scale of true greatness, I would place this film in the same company as "Sunrise', "City Lights","Citizen Kane","Lawrence of Arabia", "2001 ; A Space Odyssey", "The Godfather" (Parts 1 and 2) and some select foreign films of equal stature. This, along with Cohen Media's marvelous issue of the 1924 "The Thief of Bagdad" augers a promising future for silent masterpieces coming to Blu-ray.
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