Film Review: The Birth Of A Nation

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INTFILM A51
Film Review for The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The Birth of a Nation: A Slow Painful Birth
By Jorel G. Cortel Considered by many film critics as a landmark in American filmmaking, The Birth of a Nation is a silent film drama released in 1915 directed, co-produced, and co-written by David W. Griffith. The stars include Henry B. Walthall, Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, and Miriam Cooper. It is based on the book The Clansman by T.F. Dixon, Jr. The film revolves around the relationship of the Stoneman family from the north (Washington, D.C.) and the Cameron family from the south (South Carolina) during the American Civil War in the 1860s and tackles the discrimination/slavery of African-Americans. A major part of the film highlights how members
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In fact, the film resulted in the reformation of the Ku Klux Klan in real life during the 1920s because of its portrayal of maltreatment towards the African-American slaves. I’m fully aware that at the time the film was released, the subject matter would be highly controversial to be actually depicted publicly in cinema, although nowadays this subject matter would be welcomed in films for mature audiences (ie. 12 Years A Slave). Aside from that, the filmmakers decided to use white actors for black characters, which I found disrespectful. This aspect of the film was notorious for having caused controversy at the time of its release. Certain black characters were portrayed by white actors completely covered up in charcoal-colored make up. Even I was bothered by this, and I felt slightly offended for the African-American…show more content…
The most significant difference of this to films released today is obviously that it 's a silent film and the showing of this film is different from today 's standards. The actual picture of the film is accompanied by a live orchestra and does not have any dialogue or sound effects. Dialogue and setting are established through the use of title cards in between scenes. This process was the typical kind of movie of this generation. Regardless of my views on the outcome of this film, its content also has a lot of storytelling within its deep subject matter. Films today usually forego character development and story progression as improvement in technology and visual effects would be the only effective instrument in catching the eye of the audiences. It is rare nowadays that films would tell great epic stories, without the extensive use of visuals. Therefore my full praise can only go to the innovative technical aspect of the film balanced well with concise story
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