Friday, February 26, 2016

(The) Birth of a Nation (1915) Silent Classic, Directed by D. W. Griffith

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  1. The Birth of a Nation

    The Birth of a Nation (originally called The Clansman) is a 1915 American silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr. Griffith co-wrote the screenplay (with Frank E. Woods), and co-produced the film (with Harry Aitken). It was released on February 8, 1915. The film was originally presented in two parts, separated by an intermission.

    The film chronicles the relationship of two families in Civil War and Reconstruction-era America: the pro-Union Northern Stonemans and the pro-Confederacy Southern Camerons over the course of several years. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth is dramatized.

    The film was a commercial success, but was highly controversial owing to its portrayal of African-American men (played by white actors in blackface) as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women, and the portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan (whose original founding is dramatized) as a heroic force.[5][6] There were widespread African-American protests against The Birth of a Nation, such as in Boston, while thousands of white Bostonians flocked to see the film.[7] The NAACP spearheaded an unsuccessful campaign to ban the film.[7] The outcry of racism was so great that Griffith was inspired to produce Intolerance the following year.[8]

    The film is also credited as one of the events that inspired the formation of the "second era" Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in the same year. The Birth of a Nation was used as a recruiting tool for the KKK.[9] Under Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, it was the first motion picture to be shown at the White House.[10]

    Despite the film's controversial content, Griffith's innovative film techniques make it one of the most important and influential films in the commercial film industry.

    Monte Blue
    Bobby Burns as Klan Leader
    David Butler as Union soldier / Confederate soldier
    Peggy Cartwright as Young girl
    William De Vaull as Jake
    John Ford as Klansman
    Gibson Gowland
    Sam De Grasse as Senator Charles Sumner
    Olga Grey as Laura Keene
    Russell Hicks
    Elmo Lincoln as Blacksmith
    Eugene Pallette as Union soldier
    Vester Pegg
    Alma Rubens
    Charles Stevens as Volunteer
    Madame Sul-Te-Wan as Black woman
    Raoul Walsh as John Wilkes Booth
    Jules White
    Violet Wilkey as young Flora
    Tom Wilson as Stoneman's servant
    Mary Wynn
    Lillian Gish as Elsie Stoneman
    Mae Marsh as Flora Cameron
    Henry B. Walthall as Colonel Ben Cameron
    Miriam Cooper as Margaret Cameron
    Mary Alden as Lydia Brown
    Ralph Lewis as Austin Stoneman
    George Siegmann as Silas Lynch
    Walter Long as Gus
    Robert Harron as Tod Stoneman
    Wallace Reid as Jeff the blacksmith
    Joseph Henabery as Abraham Lincoln
    Elmer Clifton as Phil Stoneman
    Josephine Crowell as Mrs. Cameron
    Spottiswoode Aitken as Dr. Cameron
    George Beranger as Wade Cameron
    Maxfield Stanley as Duke Cameron
    Jennie Lee as Mammy
    Donald Crisp as General Ulysses S. Grant
    Howard Gaye as General Robert E. Lee

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