Birth of a Nation, The (Silent)

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Birth of a Nation, The (Silent)

  • 1915 ----- b & w ----- 168 min ----- withdrawn -----
  • (Directed by D. W. Griffith, photography by G. W. Bitzer; with Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, etc) Dealing with the disruptive nature of the War Between the States, it focuses on two families, Northern and Southern, and how the war changed their lives. Based on Thomas Dixon's The Clansman, clearly a political justification of the Klu Klux Klan, Griffith rose above his material, deleting much of its inflammatory nature. While emotions have been fired by his approach to the story, there is no denying that the film is a landmark of its time. Many of the scenes are racist and bigoted, yet the sheer technical achievement set a basis on which future film directors would work. (NOTE: Film should be projected at silent speed, ie. 18 frames/second.)
  • Topics: (History: American, Motion Pictures: Features, War and Peace)