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Wednesday December 12th 2018

Intolerance | 1916

The Hollywood Highland complex, based on the Babylonian set for Intolerance
The Hollywood Highland complex, based on the Babylonian set for Intolerance

DW Griffith’s vast historical drama, linking four stories of intolerance through the ages, was a response to criticism of his previous film, The Birth of a Nation, and its glamourisation of the Ku Klux Klan.

A landmark in cinema, in its scope and ambition, the most famous sequence is the fourth ‘Babylonian’ section, which inspired the whole historical epic genre.

The vast ‘Babylon’ set, with its rearing elephants, has become a symbol of overblown Hollywood extravagance. It was left, towering over east Hollywood for four years after filming, at 4500 Sunset Boulevard at the junction with Hollywood Boulevard in Silverlake, until being dismantled in 1919. The site is not far from the Vista Theater, 4473 Sunset Drive, seen in Get Shorty, Scream 2, and Tony Scott's Tarantino-scripted True Romance.

The Hollywood Highland complex, based on the Babylonian set for Intolerance
The Hollywood Highland complex, based on the Babylonian set for Intolerance

The set's memory lives on, though. The design of the gloriously kitsch Hollywood and Highland Center on Hollywood Boulevard is based on DW Griffith's vision of ancient Babylon, elephants and all.