Sept. 25--Director D.W. Griffith set out to make nothing less than a survey of man's cruelty to man through the ages when he created "Intolerance" in 1916.
The film was a commercial failure upon its release, but has come to be regarded as one of the greatest of all silent films, a textbook example of epic filmmaking that cuts back and forth among stories set during four periods of history.
Many critics see the film as an apology of sorts for 1915's "The Birth of a Nation," Griffith's equally epic but racist saga of the Civil War-era South. In "Intolerance," he turned to the Bible to depict Jesus Christ's persecution and death; the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of Protestant Huguenots by Roman Catholic royals in 16th-Century France; the 539 B.C. fall of the Babylonian empire, and a story set in early-1900s America about a "moral uplift society" that takes a child from its mother, a victim of big city poverty and crime.
Griffith links these stories with the repeated image of another mother (Lillian Gish), perpetually rocking a child in a crib.
The nearly-three-hour version showing at the Detroit Film Theatre this weekend uses all the tricks of digital restoration to show the grandeur of Griffith's ambitious sets and storytelling techniques. The print will have tinted scenes and a new musical score by Carl Davis that's performed by the Luxembourg Symphony Orchestra.
7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward, Detroit. 313-833-2005. www.dia.org/dft. $7.50; $6.50 students, seniors.
Drug doc at Oakland U.: Drug laws, the subject of hot debate in Michigan and elsewhere, come under scrutiny in filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's documentary "The House I Live In." The 2012 film, which takes a harsh look at America's war on drugs, includes interviews with judges, prosecutors and drug dealers and won the documentary prize last year at the Sundance Film Festival. Jarecki will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after a free screening of the film Thursday at Oakland University in Auburn Hills. The event, which also includes a reception, runs 5-9 p.m. at OU's Varner Recital Hall.
'Birds' caps Penn's Hitchcock tribute: "The Birds," Alfred Hitchcock's tale of a bird rampage in a small California town, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the Penn Theatre is screening the film to cap a monthlong salute to Hitchcock (all in 35mm prints). 7 p.m. Thursday, 760 Penniman Ave. in downtown Plymouth. 734-453-0870. www.penntheatre.com. $3.
Redford revisits 'The Graduate': Maybe it's the infectious Simon & Garfunkel score. Maybe it's the still-fresh message of nonconformity or the awkward relationship between recent college graduate Ben (Dustin Hoffman) and family friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Whatever the reason, 1967's "The Graduate," directed by a young and hip Mike Nichols, has held up better than most movies of its generation. It plays at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit. 313-537-2560. www.redfordtheatre.com. $5.
Michigan Theater hosts horror fest: The Three Corpse Circus International Horror Film Fest celebrates its fourth year at Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater with shorts and features, many from Michigan directors and most made within the last two years. The titles say it all: "Killer Cueball," "Hellamarketing" and "Frankenstein's Flying Guillotine." They'll be shown in three blocks at 3:30, 6 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The event kicks off with a zombie walk and food drive to benefit Food Gatherers at 2:30 p.m. 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. www.threecorpsecircus.com. $10.
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