Intolerance | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This presentation of the Museum of Modern Art's elaborate reconstruction of D.W. Griffith's 1916 masterpiece--a reconstruction similar to the one done by the UCLA Film Archives on Cukor's A Star Is Born in employing single-frame images where consecutive footage no longer survives--is a major film event. Described by Pauline Kael as "perhaps the greatest movie ever made and the greatest folly in movie history," the film cuts between four stories linked by images of Lillian Gish and a quote from Whitman ("Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking...": "The Nazarene" starring Bessie Love; "The Medieval Story," involving the 1572 Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre of the Huguenots; "The Fall of Babylon," featuring Constance Talmadge, Elmo Lincoln, Seena Owen, Tully Marshall, and eye-popping sets; and "The Mother and the Law," an exciting contemporary story starring Mae Marsh and Robert Harron. Probably the most influential of all silent films after The Birth of a Nation, the film launched ideas about associative editing that have been essential to the cinema ever since, from Soviet montage classics to recent American experimental films; and for the sheer generating of suspense through crosscutting and action the film's climax hasn't been surpassed in 77 years. It runs four hours and ten minutes, including intermission, and will be shown with an original score by Joseph Carl Breil, performed by members of the University Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the Library of Congress's Gillian Anderson. (Univ. of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th St., Saturday, February 6, 7:00, and Sunday, February 7, 2:00, 702-8596)

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