The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






The Birth of a Nation

The Birth of a Nation is a controversial silent film directed by D.W. Griffith, based on the play The Clansmen and the book The Leopard's Spots, both by Thomas Dixon. It was released in 1915 and has been credited with securing the future of feature length films (any film over an hour in length) as well as solidifying the codes of film language. The film premiered on February 8, 1915 in Los Angeles, California under the title The Clansman, but three months later was retitled with the present title at its world premiere in New York.

The controversy of the film revolves around its premise of a post-Civil War America, (also referred to as the Reconstruction) where the Ku Klux Klan successfully redeems the South from "carpetbaggers" and "mulattos", perceived in the film as evil. Even at the time of the film's release, people vigorously protested the film. However, the success of the film made Griffith a wealthy man. Griffith was surprised by the harsh criticism and his next major project, Intolerance tried to address the issues raised. The film has been accused of reviving the modern version of the Ku Klux Klan, which, after having been practically non-existent since 1871, was revived on the year of this movie's release.

The Birth of a Nation is the highest grossing silent film in cinema history, taking in more than $10 million at the box office in 1915. It was the highest grossing film until the Walt Disney Company's 1937 movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

The film has also been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Some of the film's cast members are:

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Last updated: 02-18-2005 22:53:26
Last updated: 05-02-2005 12:21:46