(Wark Prod. Corp.; D.W. Griffith)
It may seem inconceivable today, but I don’t think Intolerance, D.W. Griffith’s visionary masterpiece, would’ve won Best Picture in 1916-17. The director’s name was so revered at the time, and his long awaited follow-up to The Birth of a Nation so avidly anticipated, it was ensured at least a slot among the also-rans. But enthusiasm quickly waned and the costly movie, the most expensive ever made up to that time, was considered a commercial flop. While some critics recognized what the director was trying to do creatively, and applauded him for the effort, the majority of viewers found Intolerance incoherent and were exhausted trying to follow its four stories simultaneously. Even as astute a drama critic as Heywood Broun could famously quip that Herbert Brenon’s mermaid extravaganza A Daughter of the Gods had “the enormous advantage over Intolerance in that it told a story.” Moreover by April, America would be embroiled in WW1 and the picture’s perceived pacifist sentiments, like those of Brenon’s War Brides, a modernized version of Lysistrata, clashed with the nation’s growing militaristic spirit, further impacting its box-office. Other films meanwhile, such as an elaborate version of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Cecil B. DeMille’s The Little American, which had the passenger liner carrying America’s Sweetheart Mary Pickford, torpedoed by a U-boat, reflected the nation’s growing wariness of submarine warfare since the sinking of the Lusitania. DeMille’s other major release of the season, Joan the Woman, starring a miscast Geraldine Farrar as Joan of Arc, even worked in a timely WW1 subplot. This paved the way for the first of DeMille’s signature historical flashbacks, wherein an English tommy (Wallace Reid) finds an antiquated sword in a trench and is transported to a previous life as the warrior who betrayed the sainted Maid of Orleans. But DeMille cheapened the effect by using this as pretext to exhort all Anglo-Saxons to come to the aid of France in her hour of need, expiating the sins of their fathers in burning Joan at the stake!
If the director were serious about using the framework of historical epic to draw parallels between past and present, he need have looked no further for a master class than Intolerance, in which Griffith brilliantly interweaves four separate stories illustrating man’s inhumanity to man down through the ages. Intolerance began life as a modest, modern dress melodrama concerning capital and labor called The Mother and the Law, which Griffith had completed prior to release of The Birth of a Nation. Following the sensation caused by his Civil War epic, however, it was felt that an even more expansive film was demanded as follow-up.
In search of inspiration, Griffith found himself so incensed by calls for the censure of his racist picture and outraged by what he considered attacks on his first amendment rights, that he self-published a pamphlet on The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in America. Its repeated emphasis on the subject of intolerance throughout history would prove the opening salvo in a canny publicity campaign intended to advertise his upcoming film. With an eye toward topping himself and answering his critics, Griffith decided to enlarge upon his original concept. Having successfully juggled four storylines in Home Sweet Home, he set about quadrupling his efforts for Intolerance. Not satisfied with doubling the size of The Mother and the Law by adding an additional story about the fall of Babylon, the director appended a French tale based on family stories he’d heard growing up concerning the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Finally, to consecrate the entire affair, he rounded out the film with a Bible illustrated version of the life of Christ. Still heady from his recent triumph with The Birth of a Nation, Griffith thought nothing of further challenging audiences with this more complex narrative structure. Carried away with all the resources placed at his disposal by the newly conglomerated Triangle Film Corporation, he poured the substantial profits from The Birth directly back into his new project, mounting it on a scale never before attempted, and even today viewers are frightened by the size of it. Griffith’s magnum opus seems such a sprawling, unwieldy colossus it’s a challenge to get one’s mind around. Vast in scope, yet endlessly enriching and rewarding, Intolerance is among the most influential films ever made. What set this staggering undertaking apart as a revolutionary piece of filmmaking was the unorthodox way Griffith approached his material. In developing his idea, he intercut his four stories more for thematic than narrative effect, freely leaping from one section to another, across centuries in a nonlinear manner, dovetailing and intersecting from all angles so that his conjoined tales unfold simultaneously rather than in chronological order. Switching back-and-forth, he begins with the modern story then moves on to Judea, then Renaissance France then back to the modern story before we even get to Babylon. Griffith doesn’t restrict himself in Intolerance to just editing between actions in a given episode, but cuts clear across time itself, threading his far flung storylines together into one interwoven history of the world.
Inspired by a quote from Walt Whitman, “Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,” the director used as linking device the image of a mother (Lillian Gish) rocking the cradle of life his stories spill forth from. This repeated motif serves as segue between segments, acclimatizing viewers to changes in period, helping to keep them oriented. Further, with each story set in a different era, the elaborate production design by Walter Hall, costumes by R. Ellis Wales, meticulous tints and tones, even the intricately composed title cards are more than passing ornamentation, being actively engaged with a mind toward alerting audiences to set changes, immediately grounding us in the proper framework. Anita Loos was borrowed from crafting quips for Douglas Fairbanks long enough to compose Intolerance’s art titles, but confessed to being bewildered by the finished film. Which may explain why the final wording still rings with the director’s own pontificating tone, complete with annotated footnotes to verify his historical accuracy in areas of scholarship and academic research.
Griffith intuitively makes connections, seeing patterns where before none existed, shaping individual vignettes to fit perfectly into his puzzle and aligning each story within the larger mosaic. Keeping track of the big picture in his head must have been akin to playing a giant game of pictogram for Griffith. This is all the more remarkable because he’s said not to have followed any detailed scenario, despite the demands of stringing together composite storylines. Mentally mapping all his visual analogies afforded the director the creative freedom to alter, invent, and improvise on the spot whenever his muse moved him or inspiration struck. In Intolerance, he brings to life the dust of the ages, using editing to make the distant past seem more immediate and relevant to modern eyes.
Drawing pertinent parallels between judicial systems, courtship rituals, warfare, the film demonstrates how ancient peoples were swayed by the precise same jealousies, passions, prejudices and desires as today. When the camera pans during the strike, over the background billboard emblazoned with the film’s own philosophy, “The same to-day as yesterday,” the truth of the revelation fully dawns on viewers. Intolerance is a movie thrown into perpetual motion by its own cyclical view of history, in which past is prologue and events keep repeating themselves in such a way that eventually, everything circles, being brought to full account. Griffith wants his audiences to learn from the mistakes of the past rather than being doomed to repeat such hatred and bigotry for perpetuity, as his characters do, as if caught in a time loop.
Intolerance argues its points the way an orator would, the director bolstering his case by pulling examples from all over to strengthen his contention. A massive network of interconnections, subtitled “a drama of comparisons,” Intolerance employs comparative editing to draw similarities clear across the centuries. Griffith’s editors, husband and wife team James and Rose Smith, took on a daunting task in attempting to outline these correlations with rhyming visuals. Putting their talented scissors to work, the grand high society ball in the modern story, staged with all the pomp and formality of the regal audience in King Charles’ (Frank Bennett) royal court, where a bored page yawns at the tiresome ritual, becomes the high-spirited mill workers’ jubilant hoedown. Striking visual echoes are also sounded, such as when a distraught Prosper Latour (Eugene Pallete) in the French tale, still cradling the body of Brown Eyes (Margery Wilson), is shot by a firing squad during the Huguenot massacre and his silhouetted figure turns in a half pirouette, similar to the way the Babylonian Mountain Girl (Constance Talmadge) does before falling to the ground, riddled with arrows. Given the blatant miscarriage of justice in the modern story, with The Boy (Robert Harron) sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, our current legal system seems as unjust as the Hammurabi code which sentenced The Mountain Girl to the slave market. Catherine de Medici (Josephine Crowell) will cite it to set Catholic against Protestant – “… An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – ”, a line that will reverberate during the Boy’s trial with “… a murder for a murder.” Where the modern day reformers, backed by “Autocratic industrial overlord” Jenkins (Sam De Grasse), try to impose puritanical strictures on the working class by forbidding dancing on weekdays, a title unfolds the gospel “To everything there is a season… a time to mourn and a time to dance …” Where Christ (Howard Gaye) turns water to wine at the marriage in Cana (Bessie Love, George Walsh), the reformers place a prohibition on liquor, raiding bootleg stills and taking away the little Dear One’s (Mae Marsh) baby when she’s caught sneaking a nip. Where the reformers bust brothels, hauling the shady ladies off in paddy wagons, Christ prevents the woman taken in adultery (Olga Grey) from being stoned.
Babylon’s Prince Belshazzar (Alfred Paget), made up to resemble Christ himself, is likewise depicted as an “apostle of tolerance and religious freedom,” so broad minded he can release the fiercely independent Mountain Girl from bondage, earning her undying devotion, and convert to the religion of his Princess Beloved (Seena Owen), venerating Ishtar, a fertility goddess. It’s his very enthronement of this foreign, female idol, throwing over the patriarchal pantheon at whose altars the cult of The High Priest of Bel-Marduk (Tully Marshall) worships, that throws Babylon into ferment and turmoil.
In her review of the film, occasioned upon the death of star Mae Marsh, critic Pauline Kael claimed “a history of Russian movies could be based on the ice breaking up in Griffith’s Way Down East.” Well, a similar cinema primer could be written about the storming of the great Babylonian gate here, one of the most famous sets in screen history. Griffith constructed it so sturdily that two chariots can pass abreast of one another atop its ramparts. And when the heralds sound their clarion call to arms, we’re put in mind of the shofar horn blown to bring down the walls of Jericho. The barbarians at these gates will similarly attempt to batter down the walls of Babylon, pulling down about their ears these pillars of the earth, supported by rearing pachyderms who take the same stance as Atlas.
The megalithic structure’s direct line of descent can be traced clear through the Skull Island gate in King Kong and the storming of the Bastille in A Tale of Two Cities. Though Griffith would never confess to having seen any of the Italian imports unsettling other American moviemakers at the time, he instructed his chief carpenter and set builder Frank “Huck” Wortman to conscript the same Italian artisans responsible for the Tower of Jewels at San Francisco’s Pan-Pacific International Exposition to help recreate his ancient world, correctly believing they would apply the same quality craftsmanship so evident in films issuing from the Old Country. Laying out the splendors of these bygone ages, Intolerance set the golden standard in historical and biblical epics for the duration of the silent era, inspiring a spate of similar, industrial-sized costume pageants in America, just as the overseas output of the Italian maestros was beginning to dry up due to the war. No other movie had given Griffith such a broad canvas on which to work his wonders, astonishing viewers by demonstrating his past mastery of panoramic vistas and poignant intimacies. The director assembles an intricate collage, his busy compositions so densely packed, teeming with background action, we feel inadequate to take it all in during the brief flashes afforded.
In a perversion of the Passover, Huguenot homes are etched with chalk by the town crier throughout the night, the reverse of Van Helsing scrawling the sign of the cross on doorways in Nosferatu. Marked for death, Brown Eyes’ beleaguered family is left to barricade themselves further and further inside the interior of their home for safety during the harrowing massacre, a reworking of the besieged cabin scene from The Birth of a Nation. In one of the movie’s most moving moments, a Catholic priest shields a little Protestant girl from the murderous French mercenaries by cloaking her in his holy vestments before shepherding her out of harm’s way.
Other memorable interludes include the millworkers of the modern story marching like dehumanized drones through factory gates that now resemble prison bars, their lockstep movements akin to the human cogs that become extensions of their machines in Metropolis. And after The Boy’s father is mowed down by militia called in to machine gun strikers, a shocking episode inspired by an actual incident at the Rockefeller owned Ludlow mine, Bobby Harron again becomes the young soldier embracing his fallen friend on the field of battle in The Birth of a Nation.
With Intolerance, Griffith unleashed his full repertoire of tricks and techniques with an astonishing dynamism. The screen erupts in an array of pans, booms, tracking and running shots, masks, dollies, zooms, the shape of the frame changing from square, to iris, to cylinder, to rectangle, startlingly magnifying what the camera lens could encompass, or condensing it to focus on a minutely intimate detail. The director masks the top and bottom of the frame to emphasize the vistas, simulating wide screen, and occasionally the sides of his image to increase the vertical height as figures topple from Babylon’s walls during battle. Glass mattes are resorted to in the process shots where characters look out from the high palace windows onto the expanse below, dotted with ziggurats and sectional city diagrams.
Necessity proving the mother of invention, Griffith and faithful cameraman Billy Bitzer, assisted by a young Karl Brown and a battery of operators, experimented with shooting from hot air balloons, trains, cranes, cars, to capture whatever the director could envision, resulting in a stunning degree of technical virtuosity. Intolerance contains one of the legendary shots in silent cinema, wherein the camera slowly glides into Babylon’s mammoth hall from a mile away. Griffith and Bitzer innovated a kind of camera boom, devising a wooden tower along the lines of an elevator lift, so that the camera platform could slowly descend to floor level as the entire apparatus was edged forward toward the action. Drinking in the glories of this grand design from God’s eye view affords us a moment of cinematic transcendence.
Scrambling all four stories together, each isolated episode contributing emotionally to the collective whole, Intolerance becomes a single current of thought, the free-form stream of conscience with which Griffith intended to reflect events “as they might flash across a mind seeking to parallel the life of the different ages.” Visualizing his approach, he stated the “stories will begin like four currents looked at from a hilltop. At first the four currents will flow apart, slowly and quietly. But as they flow, they grow nearer and nearer together, and faster and faster, until in the end, in the last act, they mingle in one mighty river of expression.” Commentators ever since have elaborated upon his statement in equally aquatic terms. Museum of Modern Art film curator Iris Barry for instance, noted of the climax that “history itself seems to pour like a cataract across the screen.”
The director visually imparts the same impression by showing hordes of people, a torrential sea of humanity surging forth. As the eons wash over us, multitudes of armies and divine hosts cascading past, we feel we’re witness to a tidal flood of human history, the entire, tangled mass of mankind long since come and gone. As people converge upon places, the trickling storylines likewise converge into one, blending into a fluid narrative flow. As events reach the tipping point, the breakneck pace picks up to such a degree we’re caught in the propulsive current, and swept along. With all his stories working in concert, careening closer to their crescendo, Intolerance takes to full flight, becoming the unified “film fugue” critic and professor Theodore Huff characterized it as.
When the camera fans out on St. Bartholomew morn, with a series of overlapping dissolves of the church steeple clanging the judgment hour, it’s like the starting bell setting off the horses at the races. Intolerance “leaps with a new impulse,” thrillingly putting the pedal to the medal to rev up for its breathless, bravura ending. With a concentrated fury, the director tracks all his interrelated lines of action at once – the Dear One’s coalition commandeering a roadster to flag down the governor’s train and secure a stay of execution, The Mountain Girl thundering forth in her chariot to warn Babylon of impending doom, Prosper picking his way through the melee in the streets during the Huguenot massacre, Christ ascending Calvary, and The Boy likewise walking that fateful, final mile to meet his maker.
Though he would soon be accused of being out of touch, Griffith had his finger firmly on the accelerating pulse of the public at the time. As related in the PBS American Masters series D.W. Griffith: Father of Film, his races to the rescue, with their headlong forward momentum, intuitively tapped in to America’s growing romance with speed, a very contemporary, 20th century phenomenon impelled by the advent of so many new means of modern transport – planes, trains, automobiles, making travel faster, easier and more economical, increasing the pace at which the world seemed to be spinning at the dawn of the Machine Age. Intolerance’s inception of that contemporary race between car and train in the modern story for instance, proves every bit as iconographic as John Henry’s race with that steam powered hammer in American lore. When a shot flashes onto the screen of the steel locomotive relentlessly chugging across the landscape while a horse-drawn wagon pokes along in the opposite direction, the contrast between past and present, old-fashioned horsepower giving way to four-cylinder horse power is brilliantly encapsulated.
Certainly Griffith’s piston-paced imprints of this train were the primary inspiration for French director Abel Gance’s own epic of the rails, La Roue. Taking his cues from Intolerance, Gance would go even further with the flash cut editing style Griffith had pioneered here. Similarly, the Soviets would closely study and deconstruct Griffith’s editing techniques, repeatedly returning to the film as a sort of textbook. Consequently, Intolerance would give rise to the theory of montage, with its rapid-fire cutting and juxtaposition of disparate shots to suggest a new meaning they wouldn’t have possessed alone. Coming to dominate the international filmmaking scene in another ten years’ time, the Russian montage movement would bring the seeds of Griffith’s editing practices to full fruition.
Shots become shorter and shorter as Intolerance nears its climax, the editing setting up a rhythm, almost in time to the mother’s rocking cradle. And even this bridging device is largely dispensed with, leaving the unimpeded visuals to hurtle past the camera with abandon. Flashing on and off screen in a blur of movement, the avalanche of imagery practically trips over itself as the director leaps from story to story. As scenes dissolve into one another with no longer any patience to wait for the traditional transitions, the movie seems to be striving for some form of cinematic shorthand. There’s an almost mathematical precision to these surgical cuts, Griffith virtually clocking his races on a stopwatch like Father Time. Having wound up his cinematic ticker in this fashion, one can actually count down how progressively shorter the seconds get between each shot near movie’s end.
Given Griffith’s manipulative editing, which infinitely prolongs events that would normally unfold in just a matter of seconds, Intolerance is predicated on the notion of cinematic time as well. The intersecting races to the rescue become a literal race against time, representing humanity’s eternal, futile struggle against the clock. For instance, the director has Prosper stopped at endless checkpoints throughout his route, preventing him from reaching his loved ones in time, just as similar obstacles will be thrown in The Mountain Girl’s path as she tries to reach Belshazzar, heightening viewer suspense. The director has the prison chaplain delivering the last rites stumble in a faint on the way to the gallows, and the executioners testing the hangman’s noose hover shaking hands over cords they’re about to slice, leaving The Boy’s life literally hanging by a thread. A movie all about time, with Intolerance the director has nothing more or less on his mind than the shape and order of the universe. Rather than time as the absolute flow suggested by his river analogy, Griffith’s view of history here is more akin to Einstein’s theory of relativity. According to such theoretical physics – past, present and future don’t unfold in a single, straight line but coexist, occurring simultaneously along separate tracks laid parallel, as represented in Griffith’s central image of that train barreling along iron rails. Its thematically-based crosscutting allowing it to freely slip back and forth between divergent timelines, Intolerance becomes the cinematic equivalent of Einstein’s theory, with concurrent sets of historical action simultaneously traveling toward the same vanishing point on the event horizon.
According to Kael, Griffith “was living in an era of experiments with time in the other arts,” including photography, dating back to Edward Muybridge’s attempts to preserve progressive stages of movement. This resulted in the discovery of the camera’s ability to simulate the persistence of vision, cinema saving time in a bottle by allowing fleeting moments to be captured in its magic box and replayed anew. In Intolerance the motion of time itself has been made visually observable, as all of history unfolds on the same plane of existence. By using editing in this way, the eons evaporating like sands through the hourglass, Intolerance completely breaks from any adherence to the Aristotelian unities, indiscriminately jumping backwards and forwards through the centuries like H.G. Wells, dislodged in the space-time continuum. And in retrospect, the passage of a century has played its own redshift on the film, placing the no longer ‘modern story’ in its own proper historical context.
For all this however, Griffith’s grand moral tract wasn’t conceived with the purist of intentions, but rather to vindicate himself in the court of public opinion by denouncing as intolerant all those who had criticized him for The Birth of a Nation. So from the beginning Intolerance strikes a falsely sanctimonious, self-righteous tone, its ignominious genesis a white elephant in the room to compare with those decorating Babylon’s court. Operating much along the lines of a fire and brimstone Sunday sermon, the film becomes a self-aggrandizing testament to Griffith’s own martyrdom, with the Boy in the modern story, a lamb led to slaughter, serving as proxy. Projecting onto this persecuted, Christ-like innocent, just as he would later when casting Harron as a younger version of himself in a series of rural romances, Griffith hoped to provide an object demonstration of how unjustly pilloried he felt he’d been by the press.
Though the analogy between the Nazarene and the modern story is merely implied in his standalone 1919 release of The Mother and the Law, seeming wafer thin, Griffith’s editing makes the comparison quite explicit in Intolerance, by repeatedly intercutting the two tales until they seem inextricable. The scene of The Boy being sentenced to death, for example, is immediately intercut with that of Pilate decreeing “Let Him Be Crucified.” And his walk to the gallows is directly correlated with Christ’s own climb toward Cavalry. Scrupulously circumspect to ensure his latest film was free of any lingering suggestion of intolerance itself, Griffith re-shot the crucifixion scene to eliminate the perception he was placing blame on Jews and forearms the French tale against charges of anti-Catholic bias by casting the Dear One in the guise of a modern day Virgin Mary.
Described by poet Vachel Lindsay as “madonna in an art as wild and young as her sweet eyes,” Griffith took this assessment to heart, presenting Mae Marsh as the spiritual descendant of the blessed mother, pure and ethereal. When her character prays in close-up, the soul of simplicity, she may be interceding with the Almighty himself on mankind’s behalf. In his deification of the Virgin, Griffith weaves visions of the eternal mother throughout the film, starting with a stone carving of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar nursing an infant, and later capturing in identical posture the Virgin Mary statue hammered into poultice by irate Huguenots. Much as we see the Mountain Girl defer to an idol of her goddess kept in a small shrine to the right of the screen, Dear One prays to the Madonna from a similar place of prominence residing off to the left. Finally, in the Christ tale, this religious icon appears to have come to living, breathing life (Lillian Langdon), freely moving about of her own accord like Pygmalion.
Tending her ‘hopeful geranium,’ a new bud blossoming under her care, the Dear One becomes a symbol of rebirth. She has a natural gift for breathing the miracle of life back into things, just as she will draw The Boy back from death’s door at the end. A life giving force, embodying sacrosanct notions of sacred motherhood, it shouldn’t be surprising that over the course of the modern story she slowly transforms into the Western world’s archetypal personification of maternity’s most high, the mother of God. Dear One literally joins Mary’s ranks by becoming a mother herself (“The little wife, now a mother.”), this simple, timeworn binding holding Intolerance’s all-embracing, humanitarian vision together, calling to mind the old adage that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Cloaked in her drab shawl, widow’s weeds she wears about her head as if already in mourning while watching The Boy railroaded in court, her anguish is expressed by compulsively wringing her hands in Griffith’s famous, oft-quoted close-up. Present at the sentencing and reappearing at the base of the hangman’s gallows, she becomes the very image of the blessed mother, our lady of sorrows, at the foot of the cross. Intolerance may have been injudiciously released on the verge of America’s entry into war, but its premiere could have been pushed back even further, until April, to actually coincide with Easter celebrations and observances of the resurrection.
Innovative, visually dazzling and excitingly original, Intolerance has assumed such elevated stature, it’s not just the best picture of 1916-17, but a legitimate candidate for one of the best pictures ever made. Nothing can really prepare viewers for a movie this incredible. Even now, in our overstimulated, media saturated age, when channel surfing has inured us to following multiple storylines at once, the movie still retains the power to cause sensory overload. Flipping between stations, it overwhelms one by its sheer wealth of incidence. Intolerance is a sumptuous visual feast to match Babylon’s last bacchanal, an explosion of imagery so aesthetically satiating, it’s almost too much to absorb at one sitting.
Subsisting in a state of organized chaos, the movie continues to feel like an organic object of endless variety and fascination, a work in progress. As late as the ‘40s, Griffith could be seen, scissors in hand, wandering up to the projection room in response to adverse screenings, fully intending to engage in some fine pruning. And all these years later, Intolerance still seems brimming with possibilities only half fulfilled in its own day. Grasping at a vision which, in 1916, simply couldn’t be fully realized by a limited medium still undergoing growing pains, the picture proved in the vanguard, Griffith’s most forward-thinking film advanced so far beyond anything else that was being done at the time that it would have to wait decades for the movies to finally catch up with it.
Consequently, the director would spend years paying off the debts accrued from his ambitious venture, even re-cutting and releasing Intolerance as separate features in order to recoup some of the cost, caving to public pressure by eradicating the cutting-edge editing techniques that had made it stand out. But though the film may have been “a commercial failure… and lost a great deal of money,” according to Kevin Brownlow in The Parade’s Gone By, “it telescoped what might otherwise have been years of slow, patient technical progress – and it sparked off one of the most exciting and concentrated creative eras in the history of art.” With Intolerance Griffith, in one fell swoop, synthesized everything he had learned about film and anticipated many of the creative experiments still to come. So while its impact on the film industry may not have been as immediate as that of The Birth of a Nation, it was if possible, even more influential in the long run.
Expanding the cinematic horizon beyond what was considered possible at the time, Intolerance served as the screen equivalent of the Armory Exhibition, and wielded much the same impact by opening up new avenues of thinking about what could be accomplished within the movie medium. Like its rearing elephants, raising their trunks to silently trumpet the zenith of the art as it stood in 1916-17, Intolerance towered over all other native offerings, its creative audacity subtly changing the moviemaking landscape in ways both large and small for decades to come.
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