Intolerance (1916)


Director:  D.W. Griffith.



The first of four stories deals with intolerance in Babylon that leads to its fall to the Persians, 539 B.C.

The second tells the story of how intolerance led to the crucifixion of Jesus, c. 27 B.C. 

The third deals with the time of the French Renaissance and the failure of the Edict of Toleration that led to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, 1572 AD.

The fourth is set in California, USA in the year 1914.  It shows how crime, moral puritanism, and selfish conflicts between ruthless capitalists and striking workers helped ruin the lives of Americans.

Various parts of the four stories are interwoven throughout the movie. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:


626 BC under Nabopolassar, Babylon throws off Assyrian rule. Babylon becomes the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

605 BC the battle of Carchemish. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt wanted to limit the westward advancement of the Babylonian Empire. He met in battle the future Nebuchadrezzar II. The Babylonians sprang an unexpected attack on the Egyptians and eventually expelled the Egyptians from Syria and Phoenicia.

605 BC  --  death of Nabopolassar, and ascendance to the throne of Nebuchadrezzar II. 

605-562 BC reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. He made Babylon a major center of the ancient world. He had the imperial grounds completely reconstructed, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and construction of the Ishtar Gate (the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon).

Nebuchadnezzar is the one who had constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world). It is thought he built it for his homesick wife Amyitis.

601 BC an attempted invasion of Egypt experienced setbacks that led to to numerous rebellions among the states of the Levant, including Judah.

597 BC Nebuchadrezzar captured Jerusalem. He brought King Jehoiachin to Babylon and put Zedekiah on the throne.  The prophet Jeremiah was his counselor.

589 BC Pharaoh Apries attempted another invasion of the Levant. Judah and other states again rebelled.

588-587 BC Jerusalem was put under siege again. The city and the Temple were destroyed and many prominent citizens were deported to Babylon.

585-572 BC Nebuchadrezzar conducted a 13 year long siege of Tyre. Tyre compromised and accepted Babylonian authority.

Nebuchadrezzar erected a large idol for worship during a public ceremony on the plain of Dura. When three Jews, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Babylonian names respectively Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused to take part, the king has them cast into a roaring furnace. According to the Bible, the three emerged unscathed.

Again according to the Bible, Nebuchadrezzar loses his sanity and lives in the wild like an animal for seven years, after which he regains his sanity and position.

582-575 BC  --  not much activity recorded for Babylonia. 

556-539 BC  -- the rule of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon. 

549 BC  --  Nabonidu left Babylon to live in Arabia to worship the moon god Sin.  He left his son Belshazzar to rule.

According to the Bible, the Hebrew prophet Daniel foretold the coming of the conquering Persians to Babylon, while Belshazzar and his nobles feasted and drank from the chalices of the Hebrew Temple of Jerusalem.

540 BC  --  Nabonidus returned to defend his kingdom from the Persians.

539 BC  --  Belshazzar was to defend the city of Babylon.  Nabonidus marched his troops north to meet Cyrus, the king of Persia.  The result was that Nabonidus surrendered and fled and two days later the Persian armies overthrew the city of Babylon.  Cyrus allowed the return of the exiled Jews to their land and the rebuilding of their temple.


Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)