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. —KINO
Griffith was born in rural Kentucky to Jacob “Roaring Jake” Griffith, a Confederate Army colonel and Civil War hero. He grew up with his father’s romantic war stories and melodramatic nineteenth century literature that were to eventually mold his black-and-white view of human existence and history. In 1897, Griffith set out to pursue a career both acting and writing for the theater but for the most part was unsuccessful. Reluctantly, he agreed to act in the new motion picture medium for Edwin S. Porter at the Edison Company. Griffith was eventually offered a job at the financially struggling American Mutoscope & Biograph [us] where he directed over 450 short films, experimenting with the story-telling techniques he would later perfect in his epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Griffith and his personal cinematographer G.W. Bitzer collaborated to create and perfect such cinematic devices as the flashback, the iris shot, the mask, and crosscutting. In the years following Birth… read more
HONESTLY, WHO THE HELL CARES IF THIS MOVIE IS RACIST? IT'S ONE OF THE GREAT MOVIES, WITH A SHEER AMOUNT OF CREATIVITY THAT WILL PUT TO SHAME ALMOST ALL OF YOUR BLAND, "NON-RACIST" ONES. WATCH AND APPRECIATE IT FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH: ITS AESTHETIC MERITS, THE ORIGINALITY THAT IT BROUGHT TO THE LANGUAGE. WHO THE HELL CARES IF IT'S RACIST?!
The film that gave rise to the epic - or, the one to end them all (while answered in sheer breadth and scale by the sound era in Gone with the Wind). Its sprawling social drama underpins its monolithic length, with scenes ranging from incendiary to benign - providing fulsome characterisation while scrimping exposition, enhancing Griffith’s picture from mere history. Despite its unsavoury blackface and even stirring sympathy for the KKK, it nonetheless forms a grand portrait of the disunion of a nation, and the troubling cycle of retribution.
Also: See It Big! in New York, Clouzot at Harvard, Mapplethorpe in Paris and Jeunet’s next project.
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Se torna demasiado complicado exaltar la grandiosidad de la obra de Griffith sin dejar de pensar en el mensaje completamente retrógrado, fascista y patético que maneja su ópera prima. Se trata, sin… read review