August 6, 2018 – Flipping through television channels one night, I came across a feature on Turner Classic Movies, a silent film from 1916 scheduled to run from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
How intriguing that a silent movie from 100 years ago could run that long. The three and a half hours in length alone was enough to make me pay attention.
After I hit the information button, I learned the name of the movie, ”Intolerance”, which also piqued my interest and compelled me to watch a little longer, is considered one of the great masterpieces of the silent era. Not that I am an expert on silent films, but I had never heard of it before.
Directed by D.W. Griffith, the film tells the story of several events that highlight intolerance throughout history, from the Babylonian Empire to modern day crime and redemption up to and including the Ku Klux Klan. At its release, it isn’t surprising that it was a colossal failure.
It held my attention for about 25 minutes, but that’s about all I could take. It’s more of a revelation that hit me while I watched. I’m amazed that with everything this world has been through since the beginning of time, and all of the intolerance we’ve faced, we’re still no better off than we were a few thousand years ago. It’s as if we’ve learned nothing. Things may have improved slightly for now the United States and other countries around the world have better laws in place to fight against intolerance, but we’re still divided, with politics and racial tensions especially, and other social issues drawing attention to our differences.
When I was younger I used to cringe every time one of my parents would say that the world is a pretty terrible place and it used to be so much better in the 1950s. This drove me crazy, and I didn’t want to believe it because the present time they spoke negatively about was all I knew.
In an odd way, my revelation made me happier, and proved my parents wrong — at least about the world not being any worse off than it was in the 1950s, or in ancient Babylon for that matter.
We still have a long way to go, and if history is doomed to repeat itself, I can’ help but wonder if we’ll ever get there.