Edgar Cochran’s review published on Letterboxd:
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages... Oh, what a glorious and tear-inducing cinematographic creation was born almost a century ago. Oh, what a compelling and self-reflexive drama of epic proportions gave cinema an outstanding respect. Oh, what a sophisticated and groundbreaking epitome of the strong emotional connection existent between love and several forms of intolerance Griffith attempted to create. Oh, what a faithful representation of different eras of human history making love until the cataclysmic final explosion ensues an inevitable, yet truthful conclusion about the decaying of the human race due to its imaginary vainglory. Oh, what an audacious depiction of violence contrasted with evil intentions and the lack of love towards our brothers, sons of God, has conquered the big screens around the world despite the constant criticism and false prejudices against Griffith's "apology for the racism he applied in Birth of a Nation" (1915). There are few moments in the history of cinema where cinematic projects that jump high in the sky in order to reach a colossal status of nearly imperial worshipping establish the very foundations of filmmaking for future decades to come. Griffith's towering achievement is considered as one of the most ambitious epic films ever created through the lens of a master's genius. Its power and glory are utterly unprecedented, but few are the times when specific directors have a much deeper purpose than just creating a masterpiece. This is a gift to the world so it can be admired, applauded and taken as a direct reference so modern society can nostalgically appreciate and remember the purest and truest definition of cinema. No matter how blasphemous a filmic project may be considered under determined social standards. Cinema is an art form no matter from which particular perspective is seen, and that is a fact. It can also be a depiction of the grimmest characteristics of reality and, most of the times, it is the most meaningful primary source for timeless and critically acclaimed auteurs throughout history. In the case of Griffith's best film, it is its sincerity and multiphacetic brilliance.
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages presents a premise that had never been shown before. Ironically, its size is so huge that it was never remade. It has not yet. The easiest and perhaps the most obvious treatment its plot would obtain was a spoof, a fact that actually happened thanks to Buster Keaton's Three Ages (1923). Griffith's masterpiece is set on four different historical periods. On one hand, the downfall of ancient Babylon is caused by those who rejected a religious sectarianism due to different Babylonian gods and ended up betraying the king in the year of 539 B.C. On the other hand, we have key moments in the life of Jesus Christ including the sentence He had by the hands of the Pharisees circa 27 B.C., culminating in his crucifixion. On one arm, we are compelled to hold the story of the events that led to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in the times of King Charles the IX during the French Renaissance of 1572, including the failure of the Edict of Toleration. Finally, we are asked to hold with the remaining arm a story set in modern America (1914) that deals with a young boy and her mother whose lives are attempted to be destroyed by social reformers when he is wrongly convicted of the murder of a comrade and is sentenced to execution. The film was shown out of competition at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.
Instead of resorting to a linear and conventional narrative structure, Griffith's masterfulness relies on his extraordinary and possibly unparalleled ability of intertwining the four different stories into one single film, consequently creating a suspenseful crosscutting that causes the sensation of satisfactory thrilling sequences and building emotional connections between characters from different eras. As implied in the title, intolerance and its consequent demonstrations, such as hatred, racism and moral indifference, destroy love, a human emotion that is magically transformed in a suffering, implicit character. It was intolerance towards different religious devotees that caused the fall of ancient Babylon. It was intolerance the source of hatred and the catastrophic St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre because of the rejection of an edict which purpose is to stop and prevent the persecution of members of any particular religion that willingly execute the customs and habits that such religion demands. It was intolerance that governed the minds of the skeptical Pharisees that led Jesus Christ to his historical crucifixion despite Him being the son of God who died for the Eternal Salvation of humankind, despite being God's will in the first place. It was intolerance the cause of crime, capitalist conflicts and Puritanism that have led to the deterioration of the American lifestyle, an event that can be immediately contrasted with several wars of the actuality world that are caused by similar reasons related to the aforementioned topics. Was justice served' For appropriately giving a possible answer of such eternally debated question, one must comprehend the strong Catholic influence that D.W. Griffith had through the process of the making of this legendary epic.
God is both an implicit and an explicit character through the depiction of the life of Jesus Christ. Every single historical period shown in Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages clearly demonstrates how God has several purposes for the human race through the execution of his superior will. His omnipotence, omnipresence and wisdom use the most degrading characteristics of the human soul as a motor for unleashing an intentional chain reaction of events that nowadays form the bases of human history. The extraordinary editing, a technical aspect that evidently influenced the perfection that Sergei M. Eisenstein could finally reach several years later, magically transports us from one massive, beautifully decorated and masterfully developed and filmed scenario to another. The art direction is the best that has ever been planned in the gracious history of the motion picture, not to mention the spellbinding design of Babylon. The tension it finally creates is a marvelous achievement of massively majestic amazement and cinema being taken to artistic heights that could have never be dreamed of. A most breathtaking aspect that still was in the process of filmic development is the camera work, a camera that has ambitious angles, a balance to equalize the magnitude of the images and landscapes portrayed throughout, and a perspective that lets us fly like an eagle just to land to a wonderfully orchestrated Babylonian dance sequence. What is the result? The result is a heart-racing, quickly-edited, explosive ending sequence where the climax and conclusion of every story is alternately shown in nonstop suspense!
The eternal hand that rocks the cradle is juxtaposed with the inevitable passing of time. Time is made of time and that's it. It may be taken as gold. It may be used in the most productive way. A balance between productiveness and leisure time may be applied. The truth is that our lifetime is formed by the free will and consequent decisions that God has given to us, that undeniable and very present substance that give man the ability to change the course of history through the power and influence of God in our lives. God exists, and His existence makes skeptical and atheist people to question where God is. "If God exists and is a loving God, why does He permit all of these events to occur?" is the strongest question that will never be answered to them because of their constant rejection of the truth, because of their agnosticism. Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages is the personal answer of Griffith towards this issue, and I mostly concord. It is not God; it is man who decides to create social classes, to support poverty, to create stereotypes, to have racist beliefs, to create an anarchic lifestyle and to believe in false philosophies and other nonexistent gods, including the idolization of political figures that create mindless dictatorships just because of the intelligence they possessed. Open your eyes, believe the truth, accept God in your heart, stop repeating the false statement of Griffith being a racist since his past film just because it is the universal cinematic opinion, read the Holy Bible and see this film. It features one of the best directions ever and, even nowadays, the baby inside the cradle rocked by God hasn't fully matured. It is time to learn.