By the Gods!

The massive set of Babylon from INTOLERANCE (1916)

The film is over 100 years old. An expensive flop when it was first released, this set, which took a big chunk of the film's then massive budget, is still considered one of the greatest ever built. No CGI. No matte painting. I really like the old storylines in this film, while others prefer the contemporary stories. You can view a HD version on Youtube.


3 comments:

Scott Ochiltree said...

INTOLERANCE was made one year after Griffith's very successful (and very controversial) Civil War movie BIRTH OF A NATION. This latter movie was very racist (especially the second half dealing with Reconstruction). It glorified the Ku Klux Klan.

The President of Harvard made it clear that while he had not seen BIRTH OF A NATION he understood that it was a serious distortion of history. Racist President Woodrow Wilson had it shown in the White House and described it favorably as history written in lightning.

The title of INTOLERANCE is reported to be Griffith's rebuke to the criticism which he regarded as unfair for BIRTH OF A NATION.

Richard Svensson said...

Intolerance must be one of the most ambitious movie projects ever. To spend such an amount of money on such a high concept plot is a risky thing indeed. Maybe it had fared better had Griffith simply made a historical drama a lá DeMille. The critics have always adored it, though. US critic Armond White apparently considers it to be the greatest movie ever made.
There is a ton of acting talent in this film, mostly in throwaway roles; Lillian Gish, Erich von Stroheim, Elmo Lilncoln, Griffith's pal Douglas Fairbanks. The whole production looks gorgeous. There is an Italian film (I believe) that I saw a few years ago, that follows a couple of European craftsmen who end up as set builders for Intolenace's Babylon set -I can't remember the title of this film, unfortunately.
As a big side note: Howard Gaye who plays Jesus got involved in a sex scandal with a 14-year old girl, was booted out of the US, and had his named removed from the prints.

hsc said...

"There is an Italian film (I believe) that I saw a few years ago, that follows a couple of European craftsmen who end up as set builders for Intolerance's Babylon set -I can't remember the title of this film, unfortunately."

That's "Good Morning Babilonia," a film by the Taviani brothers released in 1987 in the U.S. as "Good Morning, Babylon":

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093104/?ref_=nv_sr_3

Charles Dance played D. W. Griffith.