The giant white elephants at tourist magnet Hollywood & Highland are being quietly removed as new owners update the famous shopping center where the annual Academy Awards are held and shed references to the movie industry’s past — features that revive memories of racism and sexual exploitation.
Crews on Thursday night began dismantling two giant white fiberglass elephants, which are part of the complex’s tribute to the Babylon set of D.W. Griffith’s 1916 movie “Intolerance.” All of the faux Mesopotamian elements will be taken out or altered in favor of a design developers hope will be more timeless as part of a $100-million makeover of the mall announced last year that is set for completion next summer.
The new owners are converting much of the tourist-centric center to offices for rent and trying to make it more appealing to locals with voguish restaurants and comfortable spots to linger over coffee. That transformation includes erasing the homage to Griffith, a silent movie pioneer who directed one of the most racist films in Hollywood history.
Griffith, the son of a Confederate army colonel, directed the blockbuster 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” which lionized the Ku Klux Klan and was condemned at the time as “three miles of filth” by the NAACP. His follow-up film, “Intolerance” is often considered to be Griffith’s response to criticism of “The Birth of a Nation.”
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