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In barely two decades, moving pictures progressed from simple novelties to grandiose epics. That’s largely because of D.W. Griffith, a failed actor and playwright who found the wide-open world of cinema more amenable to his talents. He made almost 500 films, most of them one-reelers, before turning to the massive The Birth of a Nation (a hit despite its controversial glorification of the Ku Klux Klan) and Intolerance, which ruined Griffith financially but whose technique was studied worldwide, notably in Russia. Intolerance’s four parables of man’s inhumanity are dated, of course, but visually the film is still striking, and the Babylonian sequences are wilder than anything Hollywood dared film again until the ’70s. At 6:30 p.m. at the National Archives Theater, 7th & Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 501-5000. (MJ)