Re: D.W. Griffith: A Reappraisal: Intolerance / titles

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 1998 8:48 AM wrote in message …
>In article <>,
> (ChaneyFan) wrote:
>> One wonders when Griffith was caught at MOMA re-editing his features, if he
>> wasn't cutting out the titles!
>I doubt it. He was more likely adding MORE. :-)

Miles Kreuger -- director of the Institute of the American Musical -- has often told the story of being present when Griffith was caught with scissors beside a print of "Intolerance" that MOMA was to show that evening. Griffith was protesting of a shot with Mae Marsh that "it was too long in 1916 and it is too long now!"

Nonetheless, Griffith DID cut titles from "Intolerance" in the years after the film's initial release. The Film Preservation Associates laserdisc edition reproduces as a supplement frames of the 1916 release version which had been deposited with LOC for copyright purposes, and they offer a contrast to the editing of the most authoritative version extant. As I recall, there were ELEVEN titles at the beginning of the film, excluding credits, prior to the first moving image. In the reissue, these had been pruned to SIX. These titles were (and are) numerous because Griffith saw fit to tell us about the format of the film that would follow (the intercut story) and the purpose of that format (to illustrate a theme common to all eras). Griffith also wanted to disclaim that the agents of the charity organization depicted in the film should not be construed as representative of all such organizations "which are doing good work for the betterment of society" (or words to that effect); as I recall, this latter was among the material cut when the number of titles was reduced.

Other deletions of titles occurred during the movie. Oddly enough, the reissue does have a title not in the original (naturally): one telling us that this version of the film contains all scenes from the original. (The Babylon battle scene is certainly shorter -- to its benefit, in my opinion -- but cuts seem to occur within scenes, not of scenes in their entirety.)

>I doubt it. He was more likely adding MORE. :-)

It may seem amusing to think that he would do this, but cutting seems to have been Griffith's preference when preparing reissue editions. There was an interesting addition to "The Mother and the Law" when it was released as a standalone story apart from "Intolerance": Griffith presented for the first time a scene removed from the original release of "Intolerance" a scene wherein Mae Marsh sees through the orphanage that her baby has died. In "Intolerance," not only doesn't the baby die, but it is returned to herr at the end of the movie (a scene that naturally is excluded from "The Mother and the Law" in order to facilitate the baby's death). This footage is included as a supplement on the FPA laserdisc.

David Hayes


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