The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Critic Consensus: Racial depictions aside, The Birth of a Nation is a landmark film whose achievements and pioneering techniques remain fully relevant today.
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as Col. Ben Cameron
as Flora Cameron
as Margaret Cameron
as Hon. Austin Stoneman
as Silas Lynch
as Jeff the blacksmith
as Abraham Lincoln
as Abraham Lincoln
as Mrs. Cameron
as Cindy, The Faithful Mummy
as Wade Cameron
as Mrs. Lincoln
as Silas Lynch
as Duke Cameron
as Gen. U.S. Grant
as Gen. Robert E. Lee
as Sen. Charles Sumner
as John Wilkes Booth
as Man who falls from Roof
as Laura Keene
as Union Soldier
as Flora as a child
as Piedmont girl
as Dr. Cameron
as Stoneman's Servant
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Critic Reviews for The Birth of a Nation
Problematically, Birth of a Nation wasn't just a seminal commercial spectacle but also a decisively original work of art -- in effect, the founding work of cinematic realism, albeit a work that was developed to pass lies off as reality.
Birth of a Nation is a great epoch in picture making; it's great for pictures and it's great for the name and fame of David Wark Griffith. When a man like Griffith in a new field can do what he has done, he may as well be hailed while he is living.
Griffith's later films are unquestionably superior. But here, in a very real sense, is where the movies began, both as an art and as a business.
The civil war battle pictures, taken in panorama, represent enormous effort and achieve a striking degree of success.
The biggest challenge the film provided for its audiences is perhaps to decide when 'ground-breaking, dedicated, serious cinematic art' must be reviled as politically reprehensible.
Audience Reviews for The Birth of a Nation
It was definitely innovative in many ways when it came out and still delivers a timeless anti-war message, but it is nearly impossible to read "the helpless white minority" and not feel outraged by the film's odious racism as it vilifies black people and glorifies the Ku Klux Klan.
Considering the age and the state of film making when this was made this is an awesome achievement. However it is so wildly and insultingly racist, and its rewriting of history so blatant, that those aspects diminish its overall worth a great deal. Still from a technical viewpoint its dazzling.
Ignore the five star rating I gave to "The Birth of a Nation" and let's not even discuss it, for ratings are wholly irrelevant in the context of this film. A culmination of all knowledge gained during the silent film era, this D. W. Griffith landmark is as much part of American history as the Civil War, and its impact on our society as well as American cinema cannot be overstated. The camera and storytelling techniques pioneered in the making of "Nation" have influenced nearly every film that came after it, and modern cinema owes a great debt to the director for his unwavering vision and talent. However, I cannot say that I enjoyed the film, as "Nation" is clearly a direct reflection of the director's deeply racist opinions, and is simply put a morally reprehensible affair. Nevertheless, it is permanent blemish in the pages of our American history, and it must be confronted; discussion and reflection are the preferred methods, not blissful ignorance.
The Birth of a Nation Quotes
|Elsie Stoneman:||We Shall Crush The White South Under The Heel Of The Black South.|
|Elsie Stoneman:||We shall crush the white South under the heel of the black South.|
|Abraham Lincoln:||Their Leaders Must Be Hanged And Their States Treated As Conquered Provinces.|
|Abraham Lincoln:||Their leaders must be hanged and their states treated as conquered provinces.|
|Hon. Austin Stoneman:||Their leaders must be hanged and their states treated as conquered provinces.|
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