|Assassination scene still from film maker D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," 1915. |
One hundred, fifty years ago today, President Lincoln was murdered.
PANNED FOR RACISM--D. W. Griffith's film “Birth of a Nation,” which portrayed the relationship between two families during the American Civil War and Reconstruction, had its debut in 1915 after three years in production. Griffith, who was 35 years old when “Birth of a Nation” hit the screens, is arguably the father of the epic film.
One hundred years later, the film is viewed as a historical documentation for its cinematic innovation, however its racist tone championing the Ku Klux Klan brought it widespread criticism from the first day it was shown. The NAACP protested at its premiere and the showing reportedly caused riots in many cities.
More recently, contemporary film critic Roger Ebert stated, "...to understand "The Birth of a Nation" we must first understand the difference between what we bring to the film, and what the film brings to us. All serious moviegoers must sooner or later arrive at a point where they see a film for what it is, and not simply for what they feel about it. "The Birth of a Nation" is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl's "The Triumph of the Will," it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil..."
The entire three hour film is on You Tube:
A modern day trailer has been created for “Birth of a Nation,” in it D.W. Griffith’s Lincoln Assassination scene is shown, which was considered quite shocking in its realism given the “state of the art” of the film genre in 1915.