D.W. Griffith was one of the earliest feature film directors in the U.S. and had made the first blockbuster in 1915 with "The Birth of a Nation". In response to much criticism over the racist themes in that movie, Griffith expanded his planned movie "The Mother and the Law" with 3 more story lines that addressed intolerance and pictured "love's struggle throughout the ages". Griffith showed outstanding craftsmanship and pushed the envelope of feature film production with massive sets, 3000 extras and unorthodox editing. The editing proved to be highly influential on European and Russian filmmakers (the hangman's test scene in this compilation is a good example of the movie's approach in the cutting room). During the late 1910's, this film was a huge hit in the Soviet Union, but unfortunately the copies being shown were pirated and Griffith failed to gain financial success from it. Which was especially unfortunate as the decent box-office turn-outs could never really cover the cost of the investments made. Critics recognized it as a masterpiece, with an incidental remark that it asked too much of its viewers with all the historical illustration of the movie's theme and should have focused on the more compelling narrative of the modern story. However, the release of the two largest of the movie's stories as two separate features, "The Fall of Babylon" and "The Mother and the Law" proved unsuccessful.
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