The Birth of A Nation

The Birth of A Nation

DVD - 1998
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This epic story of the Civil War as seen through the lives of two families is a controversial classic of film history.
Publisher: Chatsworth, Calif. : Image Entertainment, [1998], c1992.
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (DVD) (187 min.) :,sound, color tint ;,4 3/4 in


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This film was a piece of propaganda, a hundred years ago, but it's time to let it go. No one today is likely to be converted to a Klansman by watching it, so criticism of it as propaganda for the wrong cause is past its sell-by date. The reason to watch it is that this is where the language of film was developed and presented in a major, expensive feature film for the first time.
People aren't born knowing how to make movies, and there are old movies, for example, where you will see a fire engine speeding to the rescue, and it drives up one street and down the other for quite some time. Later people learned that cutting back and forth between the fire engine and a woman waving from a burning building, would heighten the suspense.
So the reason to watch this movie is to see where the techniques and conventions of film came from. To a naive modern audience, it will look like what they see on TV every day, and it's hard for them to appreciate the film artistry. But you can be sure your favorite modern directors have seen it and learned a thing or two. If you aren't interested in how the movies got to be what they are, then you should find another movie.

Jun 16, 2019

A film which justifies white supremacy, portraying and glorifying the birth of the ku Klux Klan. A film which rewrites American history as a mythology of whites are good and blacks are bad. A serious piece of hatred and propaganda which was probably a favorite of Adolf Hitler. It left me completely grieved to know that there are people who really feel this way and agree with the racist message. Father please forgive them for they know not what they do.

Aug 25, 2018

This movie was very long. I felt the battle scenes would never end. But what left me feeling quite ill after watching it was the contrast made between white and black people. White people were portrayed as quirky, fun, caring, strong, and heroic. Black people were either portrayed as lazy, unintelligent, clueless, childish, or manipulative and evil. Of course unless they liked working for their white family; then they were the good black people. The Klu Klux Klan were portrayed as heroes come to save the day. Quite nauseating.

Jul 12, 2017

The Birth of a Nation has become a staple of any film studies course, for its excellent performances, thrilling action sequences and epic landscapes. However it's subject matter is much more controversial now.

Jun 25, 2016

In addition to the blatantly racist and repugnant mindset of filmmaker D. W. Griffith, I am absolutely *dumbfounded* that this was high-technology of the day. Only ONE hundred years ago! Shoe-polish on Caucasian actors' faces -- my God. How will the retrospect be in the year 2116? Will people be shocked by things as they are now...?

Jul 07, 2015

Greatly innovative, but virulently racist. This film was shown by President Woodrow Wilson at the White House (a Southern White Racist who told Black leaders that “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit…) for all his colleagues and friends. Basically after this act, Whites throughout the South (including the Klu Klux Klan) realized that they would have free reign in their subjugation of Blacks. This was after President Theodore Roosevelt had tried unsuccessfully to eliminate the massive Southern Black peonage system (Roosevelt could not win legal cases as Southern juries were all-white). The showing of this film, not only at the White House, but throughout Whites Only theaters in America, helps explain why American films were so racist from 1915 until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s.

Apr 15, 2014

No film has given more of an impact to the world of cinema than this 1915 D.W Griffith masterpiece. When it was first released in theatres of the day, there were several riots and strikes. These were owed to how the Ku Klux Klan were portrayed in the movie as the heroes and the blacks as the villains. Birth requires several viewings to really grasp the gist of the story and themes. Lillian Gish and Richard Bartholemess as a result become film stars due to this film.

voisjoe1 Nov 03, 2013

This is one of the greatest films of the silent era. On one hand it demonstrates many new elements of film that were initiated by Griffith. On the other hand, it demonstrates the deep racism that existed 1n 1915, as it depicts African-Americans as buffoons and evil, the Union as traitorous and the Confederates as heroic and saintly. Rather than hide this film in the closet, I believe that this film should be widely shown with the caveat that America is still more racist and unequal than we Americans would like to admit.

aaa5756 Nov 03, 2013

This wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen, it is far from being good.

scottandrewhutchins Oct 11, 2011

Dull, overrated, and racist film, of historic interest only.


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Jan 26, 2016

"After seeing the film, an enthusiastic Wilson reportedly remarked: "It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.""

aaa5756 Nov 02, 2013

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr

aaa5756 Nov 02, 2013

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

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