The Birth of a Nation Popularizes New Film Techniques (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, a huge commercial success, was hailed as a great achievement of art but assaulted as a vicious distortion of history.
Summary of Event
D. W. Griffith took more than two months in late 1914 to shoot scenes for The Birth of a Nation, at first called The Clansman (the title of the novel from which the story was taken). He had twelve reels of film after spending about three months on editing, with more than fifteen hundred shots. He gave a private showing in February, 1915, after which he issued the film for the general public as The Birth of a Nation on March 3 at the Liberty Theater in New York City. It ran twice daily for almost a year and was distributed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
The film’s story is about courtship, love, and marriage for two couples: Ben Cameron, from the South, and Elsie Stoneman, from the North, as one couple; Margaret Cameron and Phil Stoneman as the other. Their trials of love are offered as parallels to the events of the American Civil War and its aftermath of Reconstruction in the South. The Cameron family suffers terribly from the devastations of these events. Two sons are killed in battles, a third son is wounded and nearly executed by his Union captors, and one daughter (the youngest, Flora) leaps to her death rather than submit to the embrace of a black Union soldier...
(The entire section is 2182 words.)
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