The Birth Of A Nation (1915)
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Directed by: D.W. Griffith
Starring: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper,
Wallace Reid, Elmo Lincoln
The Birth Of A Nation ranked # 44 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American Films list.
The Birth of a Nation is a film directed by D.W. Griffith, which was
released on February 8, 1915. It was one of the most popular films of
the silent era, and was important in cinema history for its
innovative technical achievements.
The film attempts to provide historical justification for segregation. In the sympathetic depiction of the lynching of a black man by a white mob, the film
affirms and promotes the cultural milieu that supported the rise of
the Ku Klux Klan, which led mobs of white people wearing white sheets
and hoods over their faces in the lynching of black people.
The film was based on Thomas Dixon's novels The Clansman and The
Leopard's Spots. The film was released in 1915 and has been credited
with securing the future of feature length films (any film over an
hour in length) as well as solidifying the language of cinema. The
film premiered on February 8, 1915, at Clune's Auditorium in downtown
Los Angeles, under the title The Clansman, but was retitled for its
official East Coast premiere in New York three weeks later (March 3).
The title was changed from The Clansman to The Birth of a Nation to
reflect the filmmakers' belief that before the American Civil War,
the United States was a loose coalition of states antagonistic toward
each other, and that the Northern victory over the breakaway states
in the South finally bound the states under one national authority.
Top 100 Greatest Films - AFI 100 - DVDs
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