Re: Was Intolerance on TCM shown at the right speed?

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: alt.movies.silent
Date: Thursday, February 04, 1999 7:14 AM

Jazzgrl20s wrote in message
>Earlier i read messages concerning the speed or FPS of the film Intolerance to
>be shown on TCM. Well i watched it today and some of the actions by the heroine
>in the modern sequences seemed way too fast. Did any expert see the film and
>can tell me if it was shown too fast??

TCM ran the Killiam version of "Intolerance" (the version put out on laserdisc and VHS by Republic), which times in at 123 min. Thus, it did run longer than the 116 minutes specified on the TCM web site (as related by me to this newsgroup), but nonetheless did fit into the 135 minutes allotted to it.

I've always found that the 'modern-story' sequences of "Intolerance" are robbed of their verisimilitude when shown at 24 fps; they no longer have the sincerity they exhibit when played at 18 fps, the scenes ceasing to seem as if we are watching the people of the 1910s as they really were. The historical sequences have a phoniness about them regardless of which speed they are shown -- they always strike me as if I'm watching people of 1915 play out their notions of what the earlier times were like, not history brought to life -- so the faster speed on those scenes actually hides the anachronistic nuances. On top of that, as far as the historic sequences are concerned, there is something gained by having the film end after 2 hours rather than after 2 2/3 hours. (The David Shepard version of "Intolerance," running just minutes short of 3 hours, has been lengthened by inclusion of alternate shots during the Babylon battle scenes, so that version runs longer than would have been the case had it merely been corrected for speed -- which it appropriately has been.)

David Hayes


Return to Table of Contents

Go to next article