Birth of a Nation<br />      Musser, Charles. 1990. “Nickels Count: Storefront Theaters: 1905-1907.” In The Emergence of C...
1905 – 1907, The Beginnings of the Nickelodeon Era<br />Promotion of class egalitarianism<br />While Jewish, Italian, and ...
1905 – 1907, The Beginnings of the Nickelodeon Era<br />Extension of movies to alternative audiences<br />The nickelodeons...
1903 – 1926, Formulas on Film<br />Consequences of the Nickelodeon Era<br />The movie-going experience was predominantly c...
1903 – 1926, Formulas on Film<br />Leaving the Nickelodeon Era (1911)<br />Europe had begun producing “feature films”<br /...
The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />Epic (the longest film which had been made to date) released at two and a half hours<br ...
The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />
The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />The impact of Birth of a Nation<br />Griffith convinced thousands of wealthy and educate...
The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />New techniques utilized by Griffith<br />Close-ups on actors’ faces<br />Cutting between...
After the Birth<br />Griffith and The Clansmen author Thomas Dixon were incensed by the negative reactions to the film<br ...
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Birth of a Nation, Hollywood and the World

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Birth of a Nation, Hollywood and the World

  1. 1. Birth of a Nation<br />      Musser, Charles. 1990. “Nickels Count: Storefront Theaters: 1905-1907.” In The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907. New York: Charles Scribner’s. <br />·      Sklar, Robert. 1975. “D.W. Griffith and the Forging of Motion-Picture Art”; “The Moguls’ at Bay and the Censors’ Triumph.” In Movie-Made America: A Social History of American Movies. New York: Random House.<br />·      Slotkin, Richard. 1998. “Formulas on Film.” In Gunfighter Nation. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. <br />
  2. 2. 1905 – 1907, The Beginnings of the Nickelodeon Era<br />Promotion of class egalitarianism<br />While Jewish, Italian, and other working-class groups were hard-core filmgoers, middle-class shoppers from the Upper East Side and Upper West Side helped support the theaters along Fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue. The attendance of this wealthier clientele was incidental to the main purpose of their daily trips, however; when New York’s middle class went to an amusement in the evening, it was to a play or a vaudeville show, not to motion pictures. (p. 425)<br />
  3. 3. 1905 – 1907, The Beginnings of the Nickelodeon Era<br />Extension of movies to alternative audiences<br />The nickelodeons offered not only a kind of economic democracy, but greater sexual egalitarianism, as women were encouraged to attend and did so in large numbers. Kelly Peiss has observed that immigrant parents were more willing to let their daughters attend the picture show than any other form of amusement, and the price also was low enough so that working-class woman were able to integrate moviegoing into their constant round of household responsibilities. As the nickelodeons opened, almost every one emphasized that it catered “especially to ladies and children. (p.432)<br />Perhaps not seeing these community ties so clearly, reformers would soon find this easy access for children and unaccompanied young women deeply disturbing. (p.433)<br />
  4. 4. 1903 – 1926, Formulas on Film<br />Consequences of the Nickelodeon Era<br />The movie-going experience was predominantly comprised of short films, churned out at rapid pace<br />An over-reliance on genres and formulas<br />A quantity-over-quality mentality<br />
  5. 5. 1903 – 1926, Formulas on Film<br />Leaving the Nickelodeon Era (1911)<br />Europe had begun producing “feature films”<br />Genres and tropes had begun to develop, plots became increasingly complex and melodramatic<br />Potential of film<br />This instrument, in asserting its genius… suggest that movies might be able to satisfy the modern nation’s “hunger for tales of fundamental life” which had once been the province of epic poetry. (p.237)<br />[For] a national cinema to mobilize an audience to attend its films and secure the industry’s financial viability, it must work with the myth of nation. (Hollywood’s Transnational Appeal, p. 179-180)<br />
  6. 6. The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />Epic (the longest film which had been made to date) released at two and a half hours<br />Two-part film shows two families, one from the North and one from the South, pre and post Civil War<br />The film weaves plots of love and loss, war drama, and political history.<br />It purports to tell the story of the ‘Birth of a New America’, where post-Reconstruction caused a takeover in the South by, essentially, a lawless African-American militia and the abuse and subjugation of white citizens en masse. According to the film, the Ku Klux Klan was the savior of modern America, restoring law and order and saving the lives (and chastity) of the white South.<br />The film is portrayed as a historically factual account, supported by cited facts and quotes from relevant American politicians.<br />
  7. 7. The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />
  8. 8. The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />The impact of Birth of a Nation<br />Griffith convinced thousands of wealthy and educated Americans that movies could appeal to their emotions and pleasure their aesthetic tastes. As an entrepreneur as well as a director he completed what others had begun: at last the movie audience came from every segment of American society. (DW Griffith and the Foraging of Motion-Picture Art, p. 58)<br />Reaction to the Racial aspects of the film<br />NAACP protested and mounted a public education campaign<br />Riots in major cities including Boston and Philadelphia<br />Cities including Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Missouri, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, Missouri refused to open the movie<br />After seeing the film, a white man (apparently inspired by the film) murdered an African-American youth<br />
  9. 9. The Birth of a Nation (1915)<br />New techniques utilized by Griffith<br />Close-ups on actors’ faces<br />Cutting between shots and multi-camera shots<br />Increase in the tempo of film, utilizing the momentum of shots in storytelling<br />Advances in lighting<br />Changes in perspective<br />Interweaving multiple stories and perspectives<br />Creation of the film montage<br />Viewing these techniques as improved ways to communicate, not simply new techniques<br />Liberating film from the stage, and developing it as its own medium<br />
  10. 10. After the Birth<br />Griffith and The Clansmen author Thomas Dixon were incensed by the negative reactions to the film<br />Griffith’s follow-up film Intolerance directly addressed the criticism, but miscalculated the support of his newly-created audience<br />Dixon wrote and directed The Fall of a Nation, which did not find success in the US, but did abroad. It is now considered a “Lost Film”<br />The Birth of a Nation is listed at #44 on AFI’s list of the greatest films of all time.<br />Up through the 1970’s, the KKK was still using the film as a recruitment tool.<br />

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