Thomas Ince's war epic is an allegorical film about peace. The King of Wredpryd leads his people to war with their neighbors heedless of the cost. Count Ferdinand captains a submarine of his own design but refuses to fire on a civilian ship and therefor sinks his submarine. In purgatory Fredinand's soul encounters Jesus who offers him redemption if he returns to the living as a voice of peace.
This epic drama with a powerful message was the masterwork of director Thomas H. Ince, D.W. Griffith's only artistic rival in the teens. Released just before the United States' entry into World War I. Set in a make-believe kingdom called Nurma, Civilization makes its pacifist pleas by focusing on that mythical country's own declaration of war and its swift and catastrophic results. The horrors of battle are amply illustrated through a series of symbolic sequences and exemplary melodramatic storylines. In the end, only the intervention of Christ himself can spare further bloodshed and destruction.
CIVILIZATION was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1999.
A silent film.
Additional credits: Walter Edwards, David Hartford, Jay Hunt, J. Parker Read (Assistant Directors).
The print used for the Kino VHS version was digitally re-mastered from an archive print and features the original 1916 score by Victor Schertzinger, newly performed by Alexander Rannie.
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