Tittle: Birth of a Nation
Director: D.W. Griffith
Release Year: 1915
Trivia: The film was used as a recruitment tool by the Ku Klux Klan for many years after its release
First film to be shown in the White House. To President Woodrow Wilson
In proportion to its costs, this is one of the most profitable films in history.
Runtime: 193 min
This film from the very early days of cinema was and continues to be a very interesting piece of cinema history. It is a film that I think everyone has heard who has an interest in cinema. It could be considered the first epic movie the first block buster .An it led to a sequel which was the first feature sequel The Fall Of A Nation a lost film about the invasion of America by a European army and the subsequent revolution. .The film is a hundred years old this year. And it has not aged well .To call the film racist would be an understatement of epic proportions. But also to write the film off entirely would be a mistake .The film is divided broadly into three the first part is the pre-war era with the idyllic south and the two families whose fortunes we will follow being introduced. The second half of the movie deals with civil war and the assassination of Lincoln and the signing of the surrender of the south .And the third part of the movie deals with the new reality as portrayed by the film of the freed slaves and why the Ku Klux Klan exists. But while I was watching the last section it is laid out like a modern super hero film. We see why he has to act we see how he gets the idea for his costume .He is the main motivator of action and saves the day not once but twice. But instead of Spiderman or batman he is a member and founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
The film at times try’s to portray itself as historically accurate citing sources and going to great pains to explain how accurate the filmed product is. But the films portrayal of the black characters is incredible racist .The black characters by and large are portrayed as animals. This kind of propaganda mixed with real historic facts and people is a very dangerous mix of truths and falsehoods. Many of the black characters are white character in blackface with outlandish costumes. It is really telling when you can’t find someone of a particular race to play a character.
The film ends like any good film should with the devil killing masses of Sinners before the return of Christ and the bringing of heaven to earth. This is a must see for any fans of cinema for its odd quality’s alone. There are gigantic set pieces lavish sets and costumes and huge spectacles overall. And at a silent movie it never really drags it has a great pace with many point so interest. I could spend page after page detailing this epic but it really has to be seen to be believed.