The Birth of a Nation has been credited as groundbreaking among its
contemporaries for its innovative application of the medium of film.
And it was also the most popular film of the silent era.
The story of the ‘Birth of a
New America’, where postReconstruction caused a
takeover in the South by,
essentially, a lawless AfricanAmerican militia and the abuse
and subjugation of white
According to the film, the Ku
Klux Klan was the savior of
modern America, restoring law
and order and saving the
people of the white South.
The story is told
through these two
families and often their
the worst racial
stereotypes. As the
nation is torn apart by
war, the slaves and
supporters are seen as
the destructive force
behind it all.
The first half of the film begins
before the Civil War, explaining
the introduction of slavery to
America before jumping into
battle. Two families, the northern
Stonemans and the Southern
Camerons, are introduced.
The film's racism grows even worse in its second
half, set during Reconstruction and the rise of the Ku
Klux Klan, introduced as the picture's would-be
heroes. The fact that Griffith jammed a love story in
the midst of his recreated race war is absolutely
audacious. It's thrilling and disturbing, often at the
Despite its controversial story, the film has been praised by film
critics such as Roger Ebert, who said: "The Birth of a Nation is
not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl’s
Triumph of the Will, it is a great film that argues for evil.’’
Modern films make racism invisible, curable, an attribute of
villains, or the occasion for optimistic morality plays. But, on
the other hand, ‘’ The Birth of a Nation’’ film was based on the
Griffith’s movie was criticized for using white actors in blackface to
portray his black villains (a bad person in the film). There were no
Negro actors, because blackface whites were always used.
of the African
planted the first
2.Ku Klux Klan
The portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan (whose original founding is
dramatized) as a heroic force. The KKK, the organization that
saved the South form the anarchy of black rule by shedding
However, the movie was shown how slavery was in that time
in America. The black people were working 12 hours in a day
in the huge plantation farmlands.
More Detail : Motifs..
The film frequently returns to the street in front of the Cameron house in
Piedmont, South Carolina. Each time we see the street, its appearance changes,
mirroring the political and social mood of a given moment.
When times are good, the street feels
lighter: flowers are in bloom, families
gather on front steps, the sun shines,
and the street fills with horse carts,
playful cats and so on...
When the passion of
war passes the town
and the South starts off
strong, the street
transforms into a scene
of passionate release.
Bonfires light the street,
and silhouetted revelers
run up and down the
block, jumping and
Birth of Cinema !
Griffith is one of the
biggest directors as
well as he is a racist.
There are many
innovatios of Griffith to
the moving camera shot
of the approach; the
angled camera positions:
The final sequences of the K.K.K rescue mission are
pioneering uses of parallel editing.
The first nighttime filming belongs to The Birth Of A Nantion
Normally a two-reeler
would screen in a theater
and a hired piano player
would improvise general
mood music so that each
screening essentially had
a different soundtrack.
Griffith objected the sound film that
has many dialogues.
According to him music is the only
thing that can accompany films. He
also used many political quotations
The film is innovative in
- beautiful outdoor
- camera movement and
- emotive tinting,
- nighttime photography
- good use of splitscreens and so on...
~ Basics Film-Making 04: The Language of Film
by John Marland, Robert Edgar-Hunt, Steven Rawle
~ Sessiz Sinema publised by Nilgün Abisel
Rauf Belge & Serhat Ay