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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intolerance explained...
Many of the reviewers here rightly praise Griffith's well-deserved credit for his technical achievements. Others criticize him for a poorly constructed film. The fact of the matter is that, for 1916, this film is an incredible feat. The first American big-budget extravaganza, it followed closely in the steps of other big multi-reel films in vogue at the time(Griffith's...
Published on May 30 2002 by Christopher R. DeFay

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the Alpha!
Sigh! Once again there is just review after review of the plot and background of a movie, but not one word on the technical aspects and viewability of any given release! I recently decided to purchase Intolerance, but the exisitng reviews did little in helping me chose which version to get. I will admit I was tempted to get the Kino version since I have had good...
Published on July 9 2009 by James Dickinson


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intolerance explained..., May 30 2002
By 
Christopher R. DeFay (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Intolerance [Import] (VHS Tape)
Many of the reviewers here rightly praise Griffith's well-deserved credit for his technical achievements. Others criticize him for a poorly constructed film. The fact of the matter is that, for 1916, this film is an incredible feat. The first American big-budget extravaganza, it followed closely in the steps of other big multi-reel films in vogue at the time(Griffith's own Birth of a Nation, and others coming out of Italy). The spectacle alone makes this film worth a look, but viewers should try to contextualize it. There was a great expectation across the nation to what would come from Griffith after the amazing--and incendiary racist-film, Birth of a Nation.
What is Intolerance really a metaphor for anyway? Griffith was fighting off attempts by legislators to regulate or censor the motion picture industry. An anti-censorship booklet released by Griffith in 1916 suggests he continued to respond to "moral reformers" even as he assembled Intolerance. In fact, his film is an attempt to address these reformers while simultaneously opining on nothing less than the historic importance of the film media itself.
Intolerance is really about a nation's cultural memory and Griffith's attempt to offer a totalizing, yet entertaining version of it. His belief that if we were educated on the subject of past "sins of hate, hypocrisy and intolerance" through the magic of film that we could inoculate ourselves against war, capital punishment and other evils. He argued that film was a better education than traditional education. To quote the master: "Six moving pictures would give students more knowledge of the world than they have obtained from their entire study." Such an understanding is, of course, naïve and dangerous.
Griffith was caught in a double-bind. In order to fight the censors he needed to simultaneously argue that his epics (like Birth and Intolerance) were a kind of filmed truth, yet the construction of this "truth" should only be the purview of the director. Griffith's logic is dangerously flawed. Birth of a Nation is hardly true history. In fact its racist vision of blacks fanned the flames of racial hatred in whites and surely accounted for many more lynchings than if the film had not been made. What's missing from his vision is how truth is arrived at: certainly not from a lone man's dictates. We have another word for that...
Intolerance is worth viewing because it is a wonderful illustration of the limitations of film. It's a simple morality tale blown up to epic-and phantasmagoric-proportions. It's greatest weakness is the cross-cutting between the four time-periods, and the attempt to narrate all history, yet this is precisely what makes the film interesting. The failure to arrive at an overarching metaphor that somehow spans history and unites us with our past points to Griffith's own flawed vision. It reminds us-contrary to Griffith's own advice-that understanding history in all its irresolvable complexity is absolutely essential.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the Alpha!, July 9 2009
By 
James Dickinson "Front" (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mill on the Floss (DVD)
Sigh! Once again there is just review after review of the plot and background of a movie, but not one word on the technical aspects and viewability of any given release! I recently decided to purchase Intolerance, but the exisitng reviews did little in helping me chose which version to get. I will admit I was tempted to get the Kino version since I have had good experiences with other releases from that studio, but the extremely reasonable price of the Alpha Video release won me over. It was a big mistake!!! The film is grainy and fuzzy. It's obvious that not a bit of effort was put into getting a good print, let alone restoring it. Out of curiousity, I took the DVD over to a friend's and compared it to a release from Image Entertainment: It was clearer, the contrast was better and was not nearly as grainy.

Please, we need more reviews like this so that studios which put out good quality versions will be applauded and those which don't properly chastized!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have!!!, March 19 2004
By 
This review is from: History of Cinema (DVD)
This is one of the best compilations of early cinema to date, and on DVD at that! I don't know how much you would care about the free posters, as they are repros, I'm not that big of a fan, but it is a nice bonus.
These are the films that defined cinema as it stands today. These are the films that began a long and wonderful history of entertainment. Everything from Eisenstein's montage theory ("Battleship Potempkin") to the shocking stark realities from D.W. Griffith ("Birth of a Nation") even to Weimar Cinema and culture (Fritz Lang's "Metropolis") and film noir ("Nosferatu"). These are the classics, the forefathers, the basis from which current techniques, themes, styles, and shots are drawn. What you have in this 12 DVD set is a slice of history, of the birth of cinema.
If you consider yourself a film fan, or if you enjoy a wide variety of classic movies, this truly is a must-own set. You simply cannot understand modern cinema without first viewing these classics. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Film That Never Fails To Amaze, March 12 2004
By 
Christopher D. Shaner "cdsshaner" (Rocky Hill, Connecticut USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Intolerance (DVD)
I have long been a great admirer of this wonderful film, and am always interested in the latest VHS or DVD editions that are made available. The print quality on this Delta release is surprisingly good, making it an excellent value for the curious collector desiring an introduction to D. W. Griffith's 1916 cinema masterpiece. There are several different edited versions of Intolerance that have been produced over the last few years for video, each slightly unique in terms of editing and emissions/additions of key scenes. This Delta DVD version is no exception, with some interesting fadeouts to a couple of scenes that, in some prints, cut abruptly to the next shot. The music that accompanies the film sounds as if it was pieced together from pre-recorded sources, but it works well enough and it's apparent some real effort was used to match the music to the mood of the images. As to the film itself, Intolerance is a brilliant and powerful milestone in the history of cinema. D. W. Griffith wove four separate stories together, each from a different period of history, to illustrate the theme of man's inhumanity to man. The results were certainly startling to 1916 audiences, and no less impressive today. Superb performances abound in all four stories, most notably Mae Marsh and Robert Harron in the Modern Story, Constance Talmadge and Elmer Clifton in the Babylonian Story, Howard Gaye in the Nazarene Story, and Margery Wilson, Eugene Pallette and Josephine Crowell in the French Story. The beautiful repeated shot of Lillian Gish as the Woman Who Rocks The Cradle, a device linking the individual stories, has become an enduring icon of the Silent Cinema. And of course, the magnificent sets of Ancient Babylon are among the most wonderful ever created for a moving picture. My recommendation to first-time viewers of Intolerance would be to try this version out, and then pursue the newly restored Kino version for a more definitive print. The cover art for Delta's release is also interesting, using vintage advertising art for the film that focuses on a crucial scene for Mae Marsh in the Modern Story. All in all, a very decent job in bringing a landmark film to the home screen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive with Tons of Extras!, Aug. 27 2003
By 
mwreview "mwreview" (Northern California, USA) - See all my reviews
This DVD set is very impressive. Not only does it offer the masterpieces of D.W. Griffith's career (including, of course, Birth of a Nation) but it also has all the shorts from the two videos "Selected Biograph Shorts," additional shorts, a biography and news items, and memorabilia. I am very happy to finally be able to see "In the Border States" and "The House with Closed Shutters." They both star my favorite actor, Henry B. Walthall, and I was searching for these shorts for awhile. I believe this set represents the first time these shorts have been made widely available. Considering their age, they look great on this set. In addition, this collection offers a 6 minute discussion of Birth of a Nation between the director himself and Walter Huston (who played Lincoln in Griffith's 1930 talkie Abraham Lincoln), clips of Griffith's funeral, radio eulogy by Erich von Stroheim, and many other "special features." The memorabilia includes lobby cards and programs for Birth of a Nation, articles from Photoplay magazine which are copied well and easy to read, and photos, postcards and magazine covers of Griffith's leading ladies. I only wish the leading men received the same treatment, but one can't have everything. A silly short starring Griffith ("Rescued From the Eagle's Nest" from 1908) and a very fake looking bird is included. The presentation is very well-done with video clips and period music on the menu pages. The packaging is also handsome and displayable. I was hoping little booklets would be included with each disc, however, there are only slips of paper with the film listings and pictures. Still, the bonus shorts and tons of extras make this a must for any Griffith or silent film collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, not a good DVD (Kino edition), Feb. 9 2003
By 
Timothy Hulsey (Charlottesville, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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D.W. Griffith's 1919 social drama _Broken Blossoms_ is justly praised. As German filmmakers were discovering expressionism, Griffith found ways to make the cinema express a poetry of his own. In some ways, his innovations in this film were a product of the racism of his time. Since Griffith could not directly portray an interracial love affair between a Chinese man (Griffith regular Richard Barthelmess, done up in "yellowface") and a young English waif (Griffith perennial Lillian Gish), he transferred their feelings into the images themselves. (In a few early scenes you can even see forerunners of Ozu's "pillow shots.") Thus, even though you never actually see the two characters express their love for each other, Griffith makes it perfectly clear that they love each other anyway. For those accustomed to Griffith's blatant race-baiting in _Birth of a Nation_, this film will reveal a more sensitive, compassionate side to the great filmmaker.
Although _Broken Blossoms_ is a marvelous film, I'm afraid I can't say the same for the Kino edition DVD. The film print is in fairly good shape for an artifact of its time, but has gone largely unrestored; specks and flickers, scratches, and other major artifacts are far too common for a digital presentation like this. The score Kino provides is solid, and the audio quality is good. Extras are appropriate but very skimpy; an audio commentary would have been welcome, and I'm sure there are plenty of film scholars who could have provided one.
If this DVD edition were better, I'd recommend it for purchase. As it stands, I'd advise a rental. Still, if you're a film buff you'll want to buy it anyway, and I don't think you'll be too disappointed with the package.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wears better today than most Griffith films, Sept. 8 2001
By 
Andre M. "brnn64" (Mt. Pleasant, SC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Broken Blossoms (VHS Tape)
Okay, everyone's discussed the scene where Miss Gish is terrorized by her father with an axe, so I'll leave that alone, but there's a lot else to recommend about this film. Despite the use of White actors to play Asians, this is a very strong anti-racist film for it's day and it's hard to believe that the same man who brought you "Birth of a Nation" brought you this.
The story is wrenching from beginning to end. Almost no comedy appears at all, but yet it's very watchable. Some interesting scenes that are WAY ahead of their time compare the gentle Chinese man with the Whites he interacts with. For example, our hero goes to England to "teach them the peaceful ways of Buddha." While in the slums of Enngland, our man is met by missionaries who tell him that they're "going to China to convert the heathen." The irony is added when the missionaries give our unnamed hero a book entitled "HELL." Griffith doesn't expound upon the subtle joke, but it's point is made to the audence, our man is ALREADY in hell while the missionaries are off to heaven.
Another set of poignant scenes involves Miss Gish's "pathetic attempts to smile in a world that gives her little reason to do so." This must be seen to be understood.
This isn't likely to be at your video store, but it should be in your local publiuc library. By all means, get it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving, Sept. 30 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Broken Blossoms (DVD)
Melodrama was an artform which now seems quaint and old fashioned, but in 1919, it was riveting and at times shocking just as it is now. At a time when D.W. Griffith could do no wrong, especially with his cast. Filmed in London, England during the Spanish Flu epidemic, actress Lillian Gish (the best actress ever, in my opinion) came down with the flu and Griffith refused to go near her without a mask but he was determined to get the film done and during the filming of the scene where the father (Donald Crisp) was to kill off Lillian, she decided since she was playing a young girl that she would play it that way so she kicked and screamed and acted as if she were to be in sheer terror. In the studio at the time was a writer from Variety who had just ate a large breakfast and he wanted to see how the filming was coming, the writer saw Lillian kicking and screaming and the father trying to murder her...... he then proceeded to go outside and lose his breakfast. That is only a piece of how emotional the film is and what makes it a masterpiece, now given that it only packs have the kick of Way Down East and a fourth of the kick of Orphans of the Storm (best film ever), and why it makes it just as riveting today as it was 81 years ago.. hardto believe. I must also mention Richard Barthelmess who is a Chinese man who falls in love with Lillian gives a stellar performance throughout the movie. Highly recommended for any silent fan, but definately remember to give D.W. Griffith's other films a good shot, they are good too. Very moving.....
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5.0 out of 5 stars D.W. Griffith Would Be Proud, Aug. 6 2003
By 
mwreview "mwreview" (Northern California, USA) - See all my reviews
Kino did the legendary director right by this handsome set. The films are of a remarkable quality considering their age and every little detail is looked after. The menu pages, for example, are very creative. The Biograph Shorts have previews of each film set in an old fashioned background with typical silent movie music to give the viewer the feel of sitting in a old-time nickelodeon. The Orphans of the Storm menu page has a curtain that lifts up. The people at Kino really took the time to produce an excellent presentation, and it shows. In addition, with each DVD in this set, you get lots of rare shorts (some never before released), memorabilia, photos, and even contemporary articles. Incidentally, if you only wish to own a particular DVD from this set, each are also sold separately; however, if you think you may want all these DVDs eventually, don't hesitate to buy this set.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intolerance review, April 14 2013
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This review is from: Mill on the Floss (DVD)
Amazing movie landmark!! No remastering though. I will have to look for a remastered copy as this one is very difficult to look at.
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