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D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by Dave Wilma, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    I think it was more alive and well in 1914 than it is today, but, sure, it's still alive among some. I do believe times are getting better, but we've got a way to go.
     

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  3. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    I think that's because a lot of veterans were still alive in 1914! But the movie did seem to appeal more to their children and grandchildren, which is not too surprising.
     
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  4. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    Blacks and their Northern scalwag supporters are bad the KKK is good and it defends white maidens from being ravaged by bestial blacks. It does send a horrible message but it was has mentioned the first major successful political propaganda movie.
    Leftyhunter
     
  5. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    I have yet to see an unedited version of the film. But, I have always wondered about the title, what Nation was(being?) born and when? Was it the USA of 1777 or the Nation of 1865, or what, exactly?
     
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  6. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    That's a good question and one I've pondered, too. I've never seen the title discussed anywhere. I guess the inference is 'Birth of a RECONSTRUCTED Nation'. But, feel free to correct me if I'm off the mark.
     
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  7. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner Honored Fallen Comrade

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    I've not had a chance to watch more than excerpts from the movie, but I've always wondered something. Does it allude to the Aeneid?

    The Aeneid is sometimes explicitly described as being about the "birth of a nation." For example, from 1913, but there are lots of more recent examples too:

    "Professor. In creating interest, yes, but artistically Aeneas perfectly fits the scheme. His desertion of Dido was heroic because determined by an end in which his personal preference would have imperiled the birth of a nation."

    Aeneas starts out as a defeated Trojan but a symbol of all that was great about Troy, kinda like a defeated Confederate in the Lost Cause era. He is prophesized to be the ancestor of a future great nation and race, the Romans, so there's sort of a "the south shall rise again" thing going on.

    Just wondering if it's only me or if anyone's brought this up in film criticism?
     
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  8. TerryB

    TerryB Major

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    From reading the cards, Griffith stated that the "nation" was born out of the states when states' rights fell by the wayside at the end of the ACW. At least, that's what he seemed to be saying. "Out of many, one."
     
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  9. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    That's an intriguing view! I thought it was more in the strange genre of White Man's Burden. Several directors besides Griffith did romances and other types of movies in that vein. That idea combines elements from Winthrop's city-on-a-hill sermon, which was partly about the eradication of savages so the enlightened and Christian can move in.
     
  10. DRW

    DRW Sergeant

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    I'm guessing you have to go back to TW Dixon's novels which served as source matieral for Griffith. Here's a brief essay on Dixon http://docsouth.unc.edu/highlights/dixon.html
     
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  11. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks for that link! The popularity of his novels goes a long way towards explaining some thing about then.
     
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  12. Henry Whitworth

    Henry Whitworth Sergeant

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    This was the first film screened in the White House where the President said it was "Like writing history with lightning" and completely agreed with its message. It remained the highest grossing film in history until it was overtaken by.... wait for it... Gone With the Wind.

    This would all seem so shameful for the nation except for the fact that today when we portray the Civil War and Reconstruction in film it's not to glorify or excuse the Confederacy and it's always with a courageous and unflinching view of what it was really about. :unsure:
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2015
  13. southern blue

    southern blue Sergeant

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    I've never watched it except for few clips and my initial reaction was ...ewww. The image of a white man in black face leering after that woman was just...ewww. Made me want to go poke out my eyes.
     
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  14. Rebel_Giratina

    Rebel_Giratina Sergeant

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    Just exactly why did the South make this out to be a bad thing? In the long run, it was a good thing for the US, since it led to us becoming a global economic power and, eventually, a superpower.

    The South should have been thankful for their whole concept of "states' rights" falling by the wayside.

    ETA: The South had "risen again." Just not in the way they had intended.
     
  15. Dave Wilma

    Dave Wilma 2nd Lieutenant

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    I take the title to refer to the birth of the Confederacy. For the unreconstructed Confederate, the nation continued after 1865 if not in a precise political sense. Indeed, the "Solid South" was and even remains a political factor if not a political fact.
     
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  16. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    So very sad.
     
  17. TerryB

    TerryB Major

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    Thanks for the lecture on morality, but since I don't know you or anything about you, I'd prefer not to have my space invaded by people who don't even read my comments closely enough to see that the content is politically neutral.
     
  18. Rebel_Giratina

    Rebel_Giratina Sergeant

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    I'm sorry if that sounded like a lecture on morality. What part of that offended anyone? Tell me and I'll refrain from saying anything similar from now on.
     
  19. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner Honored Fallen Comrade

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    I didn't see what was wrong. Your comment seemed impersonal. If anything, it was addressed at "the south" as an entity that was generally for states rights, and no one individually. Surely we've all stated personal opinions about what some group like "the south" should have done and how history has turned out. That doesn't seem to rise to the level of a morality lecture, certainly not one aimed at any individual person. I'm puzzled what it's all about.
     
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  20. Rebel_Giratina

    Rebel_Giratina Sergeant

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    Yeah, you may be right. Also, I'm a little naive about the whole meaning of the "south will rise again" meme. If anyone can explain that to me, I would greatly appreciate it.
     
  21. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Long ago, relatively, we had a discussion on this board concerning 'states rights' and when it really ended. I tend to agree with those who believed the real death of states rights was the inauguration of Roosevelt's New Deal in 1932.
     
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