Notes for the Fourth Lecture.


Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith

By the twenties, the genres of film had basically been established. The only major category missing had been the MUSICAL since this was in a sense not possible without sound although The Student Prince (1927) - a musical had been released as a silent. This was done through the use of the orchestral or piano scores

1. The Bizet opera Carmen was released with Geraldine Ferrar - a world famous singer who sang lead roles at the Metropolitan Opera House in NY was also released as a silent film!
2. The question of what a genre is something which is still debated today. For some film noir is a genre for others a "style"
3. Genres are typically associated with "set pieces" that is to say a specific event which is associated with a specific kind of film - the gun fight in westerns, the first appearance of the horrific in horror films
4. Some genres have sub genres so crime movies may be "courtroom dramas" like Anatomy of a Murder or Primal Fear, while others may be "mysteries" a subdivision of which may be the “who done its” (See Sherlock Holmes films) while others are how we discover who done it - the criminal may be known from the start.
5. Some films may be mixed genres - as strange as a sci fi/western like Cowboys and Aliens and so on.
6. Genre tends to be crucial as a marketing device in that people who like certain kinds of plots a set pieces will go to see those films, but those whow don’t. won’t.
7. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) as marketed as a horror film was possibly a mistake. It is perhaps a courtroom drama.
Griffiths films had many innovations including: Color tinting
Camera angles
Long shots
Cross cutting between parallel events
Fade outs
Night photography
Original score
Two Italian films appeared that would have an enormous influence of Griffith, Quo Vadis? (2 hours) (1913) Enrico Guazzotti and Cabiria (1913) (2 hours 28 minutes) Giovanni Pastrone.Both were long historical epic films - both 9 reelers

Both were big success in the US and played only in legitimate theaters, not nickelodeons,

Griffith saw both and was impressed with the crowd scenes elaborate sets and camera movement. He was also impressed with the idea of showing films in more luxurious theaters.

The "Strong man" character in Cabiria went to a strong man - along shoreman - named Bartolomeo Pagano who played a character with the same name in 25 more films and adapted it as his own "Stage" name and legally changed his name to Maciste. (Johnny Weismuller, one of the more famous Tarzans used to sign his autograph as "Tarzan") In the 1950’s the character’s name was revitalized in the spate of classic Greek and Roman film sparked by the success of Steve Reeves in Hercules. This time the role was assayed by Brooklyn born body builder Mark Forrest. Both Pagano and Forest were in their day the highest paid stars around.

One argument has been made that Griffith made Intolerance as a follow-up to Birth of a Nation the way Jonathan Demme made Philadelphia after the heavy criticism of Silnce of the Lambs which the gay and(perhaps) transgenderred communitnd offensive,

One of the major developments here as in Russian films is "montage" - basically a kind of relationship between two or more shots in a symbolic way. It is a kind of symbolism:


There are several terms which are close in meaning, REMEMBER THE IDEA OF DEFINITION - DO WE AGREE ON WHAT WE ARE TAALKING ABOUT:

Symbols and Signs.

Symbols: the relationship between symbol and referent is arbitrary
Signs: not arbitrary: The foot print of a "dog"
Symbol: The word "dog" (which obviously varies from language to language while the dogs acual footprint doees not.
Codes and ciphers are closely related in people’s minds:
Ciphers are letter substitutions. Ciphers are usually broken by letter counts - the most common occurring letters ETAIN in English other languages different, However you need a substantial text to work with The argument that HALis a cipher for IBM is possible but not really demonstrable. Ciphers can be very complex in terms of nul letters ets,

CODES are word substitutions - Navajo Code talkers used coded Navaho,
> The code was extremely complex and had to be fully memorized by each code talker. It consisted of 211 Navajo words that were then given military meaning. For example, "fighter plane" became "hummingbird" in Navajo), and "submarine" became "iron fish" in Navajo.

FILM BORROWS FROM OTHER MEDIA e.g. theater and literature. Literature supplies "figures of speech".Some examples are:

Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable:
"her poetry depends on suggestion and metaphor"
"I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression," said Mark, who was fond of theatrical metaphors"
Metonymy:the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant, for example suit for business executive
the track for horse racing
analogy:a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification:< 1. an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies"
"He interprets logical functions by analogy with machines"
2.a correspondence or partial similarity:
"the syndrome is called deep dysgraphia because of its analogy to deep dyslexia"
3. a thing which is comparable to something else in significant respects:
"works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature"
4. in "logic" a process of arguing from similarity in known respects to similarity in other respects:
"argument from analogy"
synecdoche: a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, "Cleveland won by six runs" (meaning "Cleveland’s baseball team").
"Seven sails came into the harbor"=" (meaning " seven ships came into the harbor")

In the late 1910s and early 1920s,The Lev Kuleshov carried out experiments to learn how a shot impacts an adjacent shot.The experiments showed that viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two contiguous shots than from either shot in isolation.
In one exeriment, a film showed a man looking out a window at various things - a bowl of soup, a girl in a coffin, a woman on a divan. The film was shown and people raved about the talent of the actor (the expressionless face of the actor,Ivan Mosjoukine). Vsevolod Pudovkin (who later said later thathe was a co=-creator of the experiment) claimed the viewers raved about the actor’s ability to show subtle facial changes when he was "looking" at different objects. Of course, the shots of the actor were the same shot in all cases, but the audience read the facial expression differently each time.

The experiment showed that the film maker has to consider the way in which adjacent shots impact one another
MONTAGE involves using images to explicate other aspects. In Battleship Potemkin as series of shots of statues of lions appears with each lion further upright than the last. These shots appear as the people "rise up" – so the lions represent that.


Carries "montage" beyond editing and does parallel stories each influencing the other After this film, other films linked modern and biblical stories so there were 2 stories although sequential and not cross cut for example:

Fig Leaves 1926
Noah’s Ark 1928
Intolerance gave impetus to the start of making "Biblical Epics" Biblical Epics of Cecil B. DeMille King of Kings (1927)
Ten Commandments (1956)
Samson and Delilah (1949)
The Sign of the Cross (1932)
As well as other directors Barabbas (1961) (Richard Fleischer)
The Robe (1953) (Henry Koster) First cinemascope release)
In Intolerance the four separate stories are linked by shots of a figure representing Eternal Motherhood (Lillian Gish) rocking a cradle while three women sit by the cradle.

Among the techniques used in the film are those Griffith is commonly associatd with.

a. Parallel structure - takes montage to a new level of juxtaposition: attempt at universality across time and space.
b. Use of "Irising" for a slow reveal of the huge Babylonian set.
c. Workers leaving the factory (Lumiere Brothers)
d. Acceleration of cuts near the end.
e. Flashbacks i. giving the pistol back
ii. meeting the "friendless one" when both are leaving town for the city
f. Elaborate sets and costumes
g. Huge number of extras
h. Frame changes:
i. Irising
ii. Wide screen (screen becomes rectangular horizontaally) used whenchariots approaching Babylon)
iii. Narrow screen (screen becomes rectangular vertically) used to emphasize height of buildings in Babylon during attack
i. Color tinting
j. Extreme close ups (clawing hands)
k. Camera movement - panninguse of high angle and crane shots
l. Symbolic meanings i. Three women sitting behind rocking cradle may be "fates" or "norns" One spun the material, one measured and one cut. Symbolic of birth, life and death. Intertitle card says "The Loom of Fate weaves death for the Boy’s Father"
ii. The Dear One touches the Boy’s hat after his arrest.

The "modern story" was originally planned as a solo film until the concept of multiple stories entered the picture. It is the only one where someone other than a "historical" figure (e.g. Catherine di Medici) has a name (Jenkins). Attempt to make film "universal". The characters are labeled "Brown Eyes", "The Girl from the Mountain" , The Boy, "The Dear One" etc,
In addition to the problems of the complex narrative structure, there was an additional problem. The film was released on Sept 5th 1916 - WWI had begun in 1914 and continued until 1918 involving about 70 million soldiers from 32 different countries.
The US had remained more or less neutral, however widespread protest over the sinking by U-boat of the British ocean liner Lusitania --traveling from New York to Liverpool, England with hundreds of American passengers onboard -in May 1915 helped turn the tide of American public opinion against Germany. In February 1917, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war., This was 5 months after the release of the film. It is thought by some that the US was already mentally preparing for the entry into the war and population was not interested in an anti-war pacifistic film. In esrly 1917 the US joined the war
The United States declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917, nearly three years after World War I started. A ceasefire and armistice were declared on November 11, 1918. Before entering the war, the U.S. had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to the United Kingdom, France, and the other powers of the Allies of World War I.
The U.S. made its major contributions in terms of supplies, raw material, and money, starting in 1917. American soldiers under General of the Armies John Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), arrived at the rate of 10,000 men a day on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. During the war, the U.S. mobilized over 4.7 million military personnel and suffered the loss of over 116,000 soldiers.[1] The war saw a dramatic expansion of the United States government in an effort to harness the war effort and a significant increase in the size of the U.S. Armed Forces.
After a relatively slow start in mobilizing the economy and labor force, by spring 1918, the nation was poised to play a role in the conflict. Under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, the war represented the climax of the Progressive Era as it sought to bring reform and democracy to the world. There was substantial public opposition to U.S. entry into the war.

The war lasted from 28 July 1914 - 11 November 1918
(4 years, 3 months and 2 weeks)