Intolerance reflects much credit to the wizard director, for it required no small amount of genuine art to consistently blend actors, horses, monkeys, geese, doves, acrobats and ballets into a composite presentation of a film classic.
It attempts to tell four distinct stories at the same time – more or less sucessfully accomplished by the aid of flashbacks, fade-outs and fade-ins. The four tales are designed to show that intolerance in various forms existed in all ages.
Three of the exemplifications are based upon historical fact, the fourth visualized by a modern melodrama that hits a powerful blow at the hypocrisy of certain forms of up-to-date philanthropy. The ancient periods depict mediaeval France in the reign of Charles IX, with the horrors of massacre perpetrated by Catherine de Medici; Jersualem at the birth of the Christian era, with one or two historical episodes in the life of Christ, and a shadow suggestion of the Crucifixion.
The martial visualizations confined principally to the Babylonian period (about 500 B.C.), when Belshazzar’s army was defeated by the Persians under the military direction of Cyrus. Words cannot do justice to the stupendousness of these battle scenes or feasts.