More than 75 years after its initial release, THE BIRTH OF A NATION remains one of the most controversial films ever made and a landmark achievement in film history that continues to fascinate and enrage audiences. It is the epic story of two families, one northern and one southern, during and after the Civil War. D. W. Griffith's masterful direction combines brilliant battle scenes and tender romance with a vicious portrayal of African-Americans. It was the greatest feature-length blockbuster yet to be produced in the United States and the first to be shown in the White House. After seeing it, President Woodrow Wilson remarked it was "like writing history with lightning!" There was a time when critics sought to de-emphasize the film's content and celebrate the picture as an artistic masterpiece, but from today's perspective, such an approach seems less tenable. However flawed THE BIRTH OF A NATION now seems as an historical epic, it is undeniable that the film itself made history. In cities and states across the country, it energized the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which tried to have the film banned, or at least the most gruesome scenes censored. The film also inspired African-Americans to move into filmmaking as a way to offer alternative images and stories.
Cast & Crew
- Spottiswoode Aitken - Dr. Cameron
- Mary Alden - Lydia Brown
- Elmer Clifton - Phil Stoneman
- Miriam Cooper - Margaret Cameron
- Josephine Crowell - Mrs. Cameron
- John Ford - Klansman
- Lillian Gish - Elsie Stoneman
- Sam De Grasse - Charles Sumner
- Robert Harron - Tod Stoneman
- Joseph Henabery - Abraham Lincoln
- Ralph Lewis - Austin Stoneman
- Elmo Lincoln - Blacksmith
- Walter Long - Gus
- Mae Marsh - Flora Cameron
- Eugene Pallette - Union soldier
- Wallace Reid - Jeff the blacksmith
- George Siegmann - Silas Lynch
- Raoul Walsh - John Wilkes Booth
- Henry B. Walthall - Colonel Ben Cameron
- Violet Wilkey - Young Flora Cameron
Reviews(see the best reviews)
Is that really supposed to be Christ in the background at the end, united in some way with the South, with the Klu Klux Klan with the cross of Jesus on their disgusting uniforms? Hitler also had "Gott mitt Uns" (God is with us)on every military commanders hat. Now we have a Republican Party in this country which takes much of their beliefs from religion, never understanding we are a secular nation!
Interesting movie about how slavery refused to die with the end or the Civil War. It just went underground under a new and creative name. I wonder if Hitler got some of his inspiration here.
A bit of a long movie (3 hours) but worth watching.
Amazingly informative. I will be using this in homeschooling. I have a new understanding of the reasons for the formation of the KKK. The North, in the persons of Lynch and Stoneman, was greatly at fault. Not to excuse slavery, but to better understand the aftermath of the war.
Credit to Griffith. He was either plagued by conspiracies or uninformed of history. The first part of the film was pretty factual. The last half, out of this world. His panorama of events had the stage alone. His version of events reveals more about the director than about history, though most viewers of the film had little access to the truth. Viewing the film, I now believe that his work was immensely influential in the developing south. I wonder how he might view his legacy today. I'm glad I watched the film, but I have no desire to repeat the experience.