(Griffith, 1916) Composed and compiled by Joseph Carl Breil

One of the most ambitious and influential films ever made, Intolerance involves four simultaneously presented stories, intercut at an increasing pace to four exciting climaxes. Studied minutely by Russian film-makers, Intolerance contributed to the Russian montage technique of film-making which, in the 1930's and 1940's, returned to the US and influenced American film-making again in this new guise. The theme of intolerance through the ages makes this film surprisingly appropriate to a modern audience. The music is a pastiche of classical and popular repertory from the orgy scene in Saint Saens' Samson and Delilah to “My Wild Irish Rose.” 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 (1916), social reformers destroy the lives of a young woman and her reformed gangster husband.


35 mm reconstructed version, not Griffith's later, shorter version.

Performing forces
45 players (strings: 7,7,6,5,4; flute/ piccolo, oboe/Eng. horn, 2 clarinet, bassoon, 2 trumpets, 2 Fr. horns, 2 trombones, 2 percussion, tympani, harp, piano) and 16 profession singers (one male quartet, one soprano soloist, one mezzo soloist included in the 16)
Rehearsals Four 2 ½ hour rehearsals
One 2 hour rehearsal with singers and piano
One 4 hour 10 minute tech rehearsal
One 4 hour 10 minute rehearsal not later than 10 am on day of performance
Performance time 3 ½ hours plus a 15 minute intermission
Film speed 16 frames per second
Film source Museum of Modern Art, NY - 35 mm reconstructed version, not Griffith's later, shorter version.
Rights Museum of Modern Art
artwork:Lidia Bagnoli