Nearly three-quarters of a century of criticism - much of it misguided, sometimes even wrong-headed - has obscured a crucial facet of D.W. Griffith's accomplishment in
Intolerance. This original and lucid study argues that
Intolerance is, like Joseph Conrad's
Heart of Darkness, a proto-modernist text. Both works exhibit an ahistoric consciousness of disorder, destruction and skepticism, and reflect - to different degrees - the aesthetic experimentalism of the early 20th century. Through a close analysis of Griffith's film and its manifold affinities with Conrad's tale - and more cursorily with the works of other exponents of modernism in the traditional arts - the author demonstrates that, contrary to the conventional criticisms of
Intolerance as a cluttered, disjointed text, the film's eccentric form and unruliness are among the vital components of its meaning and modernity.
New York, Bern, Frankfurt/M., Paris, 1991. XII, 210 pp.
Contents: Preface - Part 1: Survey of Intolerance criticism - Broadly drawn account of cultural milieus in which Conrad
and Griffith matured and developed into artists - A selected history of Griffith's filmography leading up to Intolerance
- Part 2: Analysis of Intolerance with reference to Heart of Darkness and other contemporaneous modernist works
- Bibliography - Index.