Saturday, January 30, 2016

One more time! Griffith's 'Intolerance'
on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Town Hall Theatre

If you missed this week's screening of 'Intolerance' (1916) at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., I'm doing it again this weekend.

The film will run on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 4:30 p.m. at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre.

We've had some good publicity for this screening, so I'm hoping a good-sized crowd will be on hand.

For more info, here's the text of the press release that went out earlier this month. See you there!

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Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

D.W. Griffith's masterpiece 'Intolerance' to screen at Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre

Rarely shown landmark 1916 silent film epic to be presented on 100th anniversary with live music on Sunday, Jan. 31

WILTON, N.H.—It was a cinematic breakthrough that changed the movies forever: a three-hour epic knitting together four sweeping stories spanning 2,500 years, all designed to show mankind's struggles and the redeeming power of love throughout human history.

The film was D.W. Griffith's 'Intolerance' (1916), which stunned the movie-going public 100 years ago with its vast scope, enormous sets, large cast, and revolutionary editing. Often named to lists of the 100 best films of all times, critics continue to point to 'Intolerance' as one of the most influential and important milestones of early cinema.

See for yourself with a rare screening of a restored version of 'Intolerance' at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H. on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 4:30 p.m.

The program, the latest in the Town Hall Theatre's silent film series, will be accompanied by live music performed by silent film composer Jeff Rapsis. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5 per person to help defray expenses.

In reviving 'Intolerance' and other great films of Hollywood's early years, the Town Hall Theatre aims to show silent movies as they were meant to be seen—in high quality prints, on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.

"All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience," said Rapsis, who will improvise a live score for 'Intolerance' on the spot. "Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early Hollywood leap back to life. They featured great stories with compelling characters and universal appeal, so it's no surprise that they hold up and we still respond to them."

Rapsis performs on a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra and creates a traditional "movie score" sound.

Original promotional materials for 'Intolerance.'

'Intolerance,' considered one of the great masterpieces of the silent era, intercuts four parallel story lines, each separated by several centuries: A contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption; a Judean story of Christ’s mission and death; a French story about the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572; and a story depicting the fall of the Babylonian Empire to Persia in 539 BC.

The scenes are linked by shots of a figure representing Eternal Motherhood, rocking a cradle.

Each of the parallel stories are intercut with increasing frequency as the film builds to a climax. The film sets up moral and psychological connections among the different stories.

'Intolerance' was made partly in response to criticism of Griffith's previous film, 'The Birth of a Nation' (1915), which was criticized by the NAACP and other groups as perpetuating racial stereotypes and glorifying the Ku Klux Klan.

One of the unusual characteristics of 'Intolerance' is that many of the characters don't have names. Griffith wished them to be emblematic of human types. Thus, the central female character in the modern story is called The Dear One. Her young husband is called The Boy, and the leader of the local Mafia is called The Musketeer of the Slums.

Because of its four intertwined stories, 'Intolerance' does not feature any one performer in a leading role. However, the enormous cast includes many great names from the silent era, including Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Constance Talmadge, Walter Long (a New Hampshire native), and a young Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in an uncredited cameo as a drunken soldier with a monkey.

"This movie was made for the big screen, and this screening at the Town Hall Theatre is a rare chance to see 'Intolerance' the way it was meant to be seen," Rapsis said.

‘Intolerance' will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H. The program is free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $5 per person to help defray expenses. For more information, call the theater (603) 654-3456 or visit For more info on the music, visit

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