The Birth Of A Nation


DW Griffith may well have been one of the great pioneers of early cinema, but he also proved himself to be incredibly asinine and insensitive in adapting a notoriously racist novel for the screen. His revisionist 1915 Civil War epic, in which two families are divided by the conflict, portrays the defeat of the South as a glorious misfortune and has the peace being won by the Ku Klux Klan.


Despite Birth Of A Nation's insidious racism and some mawkish sentimentality, the sheer scale and energy of the battle scenes still carry a powerful charge, while the constant attention to authentic period detail gives the impression that we're watching history in the making. And in a sense we are, because although this is not the best example of Griffith's work, it certainly marked the birth of the Hollywood epic.

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