10 Ridiculous Ways You Won't Believe Films Accomplished Shots

10. D.W. Griffith Rebuilt A Piece Of The Babylonian Empire For Intolerance (1916)

still Intolerence

Back in the 1910s, or 'the olden days', as it's better known, there was no CGI for cinema to fall back on. Filmmakers at the time had to make do with what they had: models and wonky-looking special effects that probably didn't convince anyone even then. The director could either get the shot they needed in-camera, or just not get it at all. It could mean building what they needed for real - for something like a familial drama, you could get a domestic abode built inside one of LA's many available studio spaces, no problem.

Clearly, this same logic wouldn't extend to historical epics that required a reconstruction of enormous antediluvian cities. Except it evidently did. For his 1916 epic silent movie Intolerance's most famous shot, director D.W. Griffith requested, nay, ordered that a section of ancient Babylon be rebuilt on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard in LA. For this four-part epic, a life-size set was deemed necessary to appropriately depict The Great Wall of Babylon - measuring 100 feet high, and packed with extras working on princely wages, this shot alone took $200,000 out of the film's estimated $2.5 million budget.

The set was so humongous that the LA fire department considered it a fire hazard, and demanded it be taken down; only Griffith had run out of money at this point, and couldn't afford to demolish it. So it just stood there. For four years.


Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the dashing young princes. Follow Brogan on twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion: @BroganMorris1