“The Birth of a Nation” is a silent drama film from 1915, directed by D.W. Griffith. The movie is based on the novel “The Clansman” by Thomas Dixon Jr. and is considered a landmark in American cinema, despite its controversial subject matter.
The film follows the story of two families, the Stonemans from the North and the Camerons from the South, during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. The movie portrays the Southern whites as the heroic defenders of their homes against Northern aggression and the newly freed African Americans as a dangerous and inferior race.
The film is notorious for its portrayal of African Americans as grotesque caricatures and for its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan is depicted as a heroic force that helps to restore order and protect white women from the supposedly uncontrollable lust of black men.
“The Birth of a Nation” was met with controversy upon its release, with some groups protesting against its racism and portrayal of African Americans. However, it was also a commercial success and was praised by some for its technical innovations and cinematic techniques, including the use of close-ups, cross-cutting, and camera movement.
Despite its historical significance, “The Birth of a Nation” is now widely criticized for its racist content and has been the subject of much debate about the role of art in perpetuating harmful stereotypes and promoting white supremacy.
Thomas Dixon Jr., D.W. Griffith, Frank E. Woods
Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall