Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Capsule Review: The Birth Of A Nation (1915)

Universally acclaimed as one of the most innovative and influential of all silent films, Birth of a Nation is equally vilified for its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan and its terribily bigoted view of black Americans following the end of slavery. Featuring so many new filmic devices that it's almost difficult to list them all, the first half of the film contains some amazing recreations of Civil War battles (featuring one of the first instances of night shooting), and an affecting anti-war message of two families at odds on the battlefield. It's then all the more distressing when the material shows such ignorance in its second half. The success of this film led to a widespread increase in KKK enrollment, while its criticism led to director DW Griffith following up with his film Intolerance the following year.

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