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November 01, 1991 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-01

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A'nn Arbor Stages Silent

Coup

9

by Jen Bilk
"Once in a lifetime, you say?"
"Yeah, right. It'll be out on
video in no time."
"Showcase always plays
movies for at least a week. I'll catch
it later."
True, in this age of mechanical
reproduction, taped television, and
controlled viewing, it's hard to
believe that an experience could be
"once in a lifetime." After all, for
most of us, a lifetime's a pretty long
time. Blurb-o-matic critics use and
abuse hyperbole every day, so we
get inured to it. Rest assured,
however, that this Saturday's
showing of D.W. Griffith's
masterpiece, Intolerance, complete
with live orchestra, chorus, and
authentic silent film theater, is
quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity.
Recognized as the father of
narrative cinema, Griffith remains
to this day one of the most
influential filmmakers in the
history of cinema. He developed
film as a storytelling medium,
bringing a legitimacy to the
seventh art with his spectacular
epics. He synthesized narrative
techniques into the syntax of
cinema as we know it with such
conventions as crosscutting and the
close-up until they effectively
constituted filni language. Griffith
revolutionized film acting, setting it
apart from the overdrawn
characters of earlier films and the
stagey styles of theater. Though his
performances seem melodramatic
by our standards, they were subtle
and evocative in his day and
remain emotionally compelling.
After the release of his other
masterpiece, The Birth of a Nation,
Griffith incurred criticism for the
film's white supremacist
sympathies. As a response to these
critics, Griffith made Intolerance to
show, as an opening title describes,
"how hatred and intolerance,
through all the ages, have battled
against love and charity." He
explores these themes through four
separate but intercut stories: "The
Mother and the Law," about the
evils of contemporary social reform;

"The Nazarene," depicting
Christ's betrayal and crucifixion;
"The Medieval Story," about the
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in
France; and "The Fall of Babylon,"
which, according to Vincent Canby
of The New York Times, "has
much less to do with intolerance
than with cinema as a spectacle."
In response to the premiere's
lukewarm 1916 reception, Griffith
repeatedly re-edited Intolerance
until 1938, when he was barred
from the projection booth at New
York's Museum of Modern Art.
During the time that Griffith
attempted to rework his film,
footage was lost and rearranged,
prints moldered and outtakes
disintegrated, and even the original
negative was cut in order to divide
Intolerance into two shorter films.
With no written screenplay, the
reconstruction task seemed near
impossible.
When Peter Williamson, the
film curator at the Museum of
Modern Art, began reconstructing
Intolerance in 1981, he wondered
whether the piano score might be
of any help, and called Gillian
Anderson, a musicologist at the
Library of Congress. Together, the
two reconstructed the film footage
according to conductor's cues and
markings on the score, which were
indispensable in determining scene
order and duration. Their labors
resulted in a three-and-a-half-hour
reconstruction of Intolerance with
moving footage for all but 12
minutes, where freeze frames from
Griffith's scrapbooks are used to
replace the missing film. These
freeze frames bear the marks of
staple holes, but according to
Anderson, they don't detract from
the movie. Instead, they serve as a
reminder that today's Intolerance is
a reconstruction, an educated
conjecture about what the original
Intolerance might have been.
This weekend's screening of
Intolerance, presented by the
Michigan Theater in conjunction
with the University's Program in
Film and Video Studies and The
Institute for the Humanities, will
be the fourth time the
reconstructed Intolerance has ever

Cops, Cups and Clamor (cover story)
The Ann Arbor Police Department recently created the Noisy Party Patrol, and
its effects have been felt by party-goers who have been hit by noise citations.
At the same time, the police continue to crack down on underage drinking It's
little wonder that some party-going, hard-drinking students are starting to feel
a little bit paranoid... See Page 6.
Interview: Al Sharpton
Weekend interviews the activist who never shies away from bitter racial
controversies. See Page 4.
Some Recipes You Can't Refuse
"Food for Thought" food consultant Andrew Levy details the ins and outs of
creating great Italian food. See Page 8.
Intolerance
A long-lost classic from the early days of American film rises from the ashes
and appears at the Michigan Theater this weekend.See Page 10.
Also:
Cartoons
"Nuts and Bolts" will be back next week. We promise.
Columns
Last week, an advertisement endorsing Holocaust revisionism was published in
the Daily. Jonathan Chait examines some of the issues raised by this incident.
The Weekend List
Cover photo by Michelle Guy.

D.W. Griffith alternated sensitive close-ups with spectacular crowd scenes such as this one from, Intolerance's
"Fall of Babylon" section. Griffith presided over his cast of thousands from a hot-air balloon.

Fairness andFree Sr
Revisionist Ad Contr
Last Thursday, the Daily ra
advertisement by a group callec
Debate on the I lolocaust (COE
the Holocaust occurred. The ne
from the editors defended runn
that, "...we cannot justifiably cc
unpopular views from our pages
offensive, or because we disagr<
opinion page ran the First Ame
masthead.
JONATHAN noLet's get a few things straig
not express an opinion. It expre
CHAIT statement that cannot objective
The statement "The Holocaus
was right" is an opinion. CODC
opinion than a statement that Angell Iall does not exist.'I
claim, unlike an opinion, was not dependent on one's poin
to deny that there is an objective reality.
Why is this so important? Because the Holocaust revisi
people will not accept their beliefs right away. So they por
subject to debate. As the survivors of the Holocaust die off
will attain greater and greater validity. But the lie must firs
before it is accepted as truth. Those who call Holocaust re
more to help it than a hundred advertisements could.
Secondly, invoking the First Amendment as a defense <
red herring. The First Amendment does not deny newspaj
the content of advertisements. The idea that newspapers a
obligation to print everything the public submits is actuall'
the press. The Daily is an independent newspaper, not a s
Of course, this newspaper is not run like a public soapb
Daily, like other newspapers, has policies governing what c
News stories cannot contain factual errors; factual errors in
corrected with editor's notes; advertisements containing b<
rejected out of hand. If newspapers did not restrict what w
there would be no need for editors.
So the problem is not, as some have said, that the Daily
advertisements. If this in fact were the policy, it would be
completely fair.
The most distressing aspect of this controversy is that n1
advocated a selectively exclusive advertising policy which
others. They feel that while the Daily should withhold be
women, anti-Semitic lies are perfectly suitable for publicat
while they completely support free speech, using women 1
an idea, and is thus subject to censorship. However, the wl
running these ads is that they objectify women. Thus thes
run precisely because they promote an idea which is offen
Anyone who feels that revisionist advertisements shoul
advertisements are censored is a hypocrite who supports a
Of course, newspapers have every right to print this filt
But we should not confuse a right in the legal sense with a
Although the Daily has a legal right to print such ads, its e
right in defending it. Similarly, CODOII exersized its cons
the ad, though the ad was morally despicable.
Finally, I want to make clear that, contrary to the claim
of the Jewish community, the Daily editors are not anti-Se
for defending the advertisement is based on a misguided t
protect open debate. I understand how there could be a p
but let me assure you, as a Jewish staff member, that if thi
have resigned long ago.
I completely understand those who claim that the Dail
advertisements based on offensiveness. But be consistent.
speech" in advertising, support it for everyone - not just
Editor's Note: The CODOH advertisement published in the L
a hot topic of debate on campus for the past week. We want our r
issues raised by this incident are being debated in the newsroom.
editorial assistant and regular columnist, is one staffer who disa,
position.

been shown. Ann Arbor's screening
will be uniquely special, because,
says Anderson, "It's going to be
shown in a real, honest-to-god
movie house. This will be the first
time it's happened in a movie
house of this vintage. Even if
you're going to have the
opportunity to see this again with a
live orchestra, I doubt seriously
that it would be in a place that was
the place for it at the time."
The screening will be
accompanied by a live orchestra,
chorus, soloists, and sound effects
(attempted for the first time thus
far), all conducted by Anderson.
'The score adds significantly to
audience understanding of the
film," explains Anderson, by
interacting with the film to create a
synthesis of overall affect.
Anderson notes that the marriage
of live music with mechanical film
combines the quintessential

aspects of the 19th and-20th
centuries, as the human
performance compensates for the
cold impact of the industrial
revolution. "This is'a once in a
lifetime opportunity," concludes
Anderson, "to see an artifact of our
culture as it was meant to be seen."
Prof. William Paul, acting
director of the Program in Film and
Video Studies, corroborates
Anderson's enthusiasm. "It's the
most significant film event of the
year for Ann Arbor. Anybody with
any interest in film should see it."
Indeed, Griffith's
contributions to international film
are inestimable, and the spectacle
of Intolerance, with its unrivalled
sets and technique, has been one of
the most influential films ever.
Lenin ordered it into Russia in
1919, where it was studied by such
directors as Eisenstein and
Pudovkin; it was in part from

Griffith that the Soviet filmmakers
developed their famous theories of
montage. Through the Soviet
films, Griffith's techniques
returned to the States in the '30s
and '40s to make their mark once
again.
It doesn't get any better than
this. The reconstructed Intolerance,
shown in a theater built for silent
films, with live music as it was
meant to be experienced: for
anybody who cares about film and
a cinematic language we now take
for granted, Intolerance will be
unforgettable. It really is a once-in-
a-lifetime opportunity. In fact, it
may be the only true once-in-a-
lifetime chance you'll ever have.
See Weekend Litfor details on
Intolerance and the accompanying
lecture today at noon.

?OsR ffR' '

Weekend Editor-Gil Renberg
Weekend Associate Editor-Jesse Walker
Editorial Assistant-Jonathan Chait
Food Consultants-Andrew Levy, Daniel Poux
Staff-Lisa Bean, Scott Chupack, Craig Linne, Matthew Pulliam,.

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year-old genius caught between his dim mother and
an evil psychologist. (At Showcase: 1, 3:10, 5:10,
7:15, 9:25,11:35; at Bnarwood: 10, 12, 2, 4:15, 7,
9, 11:15)
My Own Private Idaho (R)
Gus Van Sant (Drugsbre Cowboy) becomes one
of the most exciting American directors with this
unique story of street hustlers that also proves
Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix can act. (At Ann
Arbor 1 & 2: Sat/Sun(Tue: 12:30, 2:45, 5:00,
7:30, 9:30; all week: 5:00, 7:30, 9:30)

Necessary Roughness (PG-I3)
Possibly the best football film since that First &
Ten series on HBO. (At Fox Village: 5, 7:15, 9:45)
Other People's Money (R)
Unfunny, unsuccessful adaptation of an off-
Broadway comedy hit starring Louie dePalma, er,
Danny Devito and Penelope Ann Miller. (At
Briarwood: 10:15, 12:30, 2:40, 4:45, 7:30, 9:40,
11:40; at Showcase: 12:40, 2:50, 5, 7:40, 9:45,
12:25)
The People Under the Stairs (R)
Director Wes (Nightmare on Elm Street) Craven
is back with alovely Halloween piece about a colony
of social outcasts in the recesses of an abandoned
house. Boo. (At Showcase: 12:35, 2:45, 4:55, 7:45,
10, 12:30; at Fox Village: 5, 7:15, 9:30)

Special Sections Coordinator-Beth Halverson
Sales Manager-April Rassa
Assistant Sales Manager-Shannon Burke
Weekend is published by The Michigan Daily almost every Friday. Copyright 1991. This material may not be
reproduced in coursepacks because we want people to have to buy our product. Items for the Weekend List must be
submitted at the latest by the Friday before publication. List submissions and letters can be dropped off at
the Daily or mailed to us at:
Weekend
420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(313) 764-0552

Antonio Roque

November 1, 1991

WEEKEND

Page 10

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