With American opinion divided over the European war in 1915, no fewer than three major motion pictures were conceived with anti-war messages in mind: J. Stuart Blackton's The Battle Cry of Peace, D.W. Griffith's Intolerance and Thomas Ince's Civilization. Set in the mythical kingdom of Wredpryd, Civilization begins with war spreading through the land. Inventor Count Ferdinand (Howard Hickman), against the wishes of his pacifist fiancee (Enid Markey), agrees to commandeer a submarine against the enemy. When his sub blows up, the Count is rescued from eternal damnation by the spirit of Jesus Christ, whose soul enters Ferdinand's body. Ferdinand returns to life, convincing the King of Wredpryd (Herchel Mayal) that he, the king, has divine powers. But Jesus, using Ferdinand as his vessel, shows the king that no man is above the laws of God--and also gives him an up-close-and-personal tour of the bloody battlefield. The King realizes the error of his ways, and declares an end to the battle. Extremely popular during its first year of release (1916), Civilization disappeared from view the moment that the US declared war against Germany. Though its direction is often credited to producer Thomas Ince, Civilization was actually directed by committee: among its helmsmen were Walter Edwards, Raymond B. West, Jay Hunt, Reginald Barker, J. Park Read and David M. Hartford.
by Hal Erickson synopsis