1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation

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

  1. Rebel_Giratina

    Rebel_Giratina Sergeant

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2014
    Messages:
    887
    Location:
    Sunny SoFla
    After reading that, I'm inclined to agree with you. It also makes me wonder how a victorious CSA would have fared in the face of a depression on the level of the Great Depression. (Not too well, I'm guessing.) However, I have a feeling that is a topic for another thread, and preferably one on the "What if?" forum.
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. TerryB

    TerryB Major

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Messages:
    8,939
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    You could make a good case for that. Obviously, Griffith lived prior to FDR and had his own take on that. It's sort of like the old saw, "Before the Civil War, people would say 'these United states,' but after the war, people started saying 'the United States."' There may be something to that, even though it's a cliche.
     
  4. Rebel_Giratina

    Rebel_Giratina Sergeant

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2014
    Messages:
    887
    Location:
    Sunny SoFla
    I've always heard it stated as "the United States are" vs. "the United States is."
     
  5. TerryB

    TerryB Major

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Messages:
    8,939
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    That too.
     
  6. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Messages:
    8,946


    In regards to states rights or the lack thereof. The historical fact is that, over time, all gov'ts either accumulate power at the expense of their citizens or dissipate their authority and fragment or lapse into anarchy.
    From the very signing of the Constitution, power and /or authority was gravitating to one branch or other of the Federal Gov't(the first big event being Jefferson's sacrificing his theory of strict construction of the Constitution, in favor of national aggrandizement).
    The CW settled nothing about states rights, except the non-existence of unilateral secession(except through Rebellion and possibly Revolution) and illegality of slavery.
    American history continued after the CW with a slow, but definite accretion of power and authority to Washington. It was with the New Deal, that the deluge occurred.
     
    O' Be Joyful likes this.
  7. TerryB

    TerryB Major

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Messages:
    8,939
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Yeah, that pretty much covers it. Griffith had his own POV, and my posts were an attempt to understand what he meant by "Birth of a Nation" based on his text cards.
     
  8. Bryan_C

    Bryan_C First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,061
    Location:
    North of Fort Stevens, DC
    If the actor had to touch the woman, I seriously doubt it... and I'm just thinking about the objections from the cast and crew, not to mention the audience.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  9. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Messages:
    8,946
    Birth of A Nation(and D.W. Griffith) celebrates the post-war, southern victory in reestablishing the political and social forms of that existed in the ante-bellum South.
     
    James N. and leftyhunter like this.
  10. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    7,400
    Location:
    District of Columbia
    [​IMG]
    Actor Walter Lang in blackface as "Gus" in the 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation. Some might say, only a white person could portray so villainous a black man, because no black man would or could take that role.

    - Alan
     
    Dedej, OpnCoronet, Bryan_C and 2 others like this.
  11. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,432
    Location:
    East Texas
    In case no one else mentions it, some of the then still-standing Babylon sets were torched in the famous scene when Rhett and Scarlett ( actually stunt director Yakima Canutt and another stuntman ) leave a burning Atlanta in GWTW!
     
    DRW likes this.
  12. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,432
    Location:
    East Texas
    He also called it History written with lightning or something close to that.

    Edit - I see that quote has already been noted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
    Eric Calistri and leftyhunter like this.
  13. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,432
    Location:
    East Texas
    If you recall, in the America of 1915 there were NO BLACK ACTORS! Everything anyone here has described so far have been merely extras, not actual actors. I forget his name, but the black would-be rapist seized by the Klan was an actual working actor ( and I believe stuntman ) chosen because this part, unlike the others called for acting.

    Edit - Thanks to Alan for remembering the name of actor Walter Lang, who if memory serves, made a specialty of playing thuggish brutes like Gus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
    leftyhunter likes this.
  14. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    7,400
    Location:
    District of Columbia
    The first black cinema companies debuted in the late 1910s. As noted here,

    Around this same time, George and Noble Johnson decided to form a production company with the purpose of making films from a black point of view. They enlisted the services of an unemployed white cameraman, Harry Gant and in 1916, backed by black investors from Los Angeles, formed the Lincoln Motion Picture Company in Omaha, Nebraska. The films resulting from this enterprise were to become the first in the development of both a black film genre as well as a black film aesthetic.

    Between 1916 and 1922, the company averaged one film per year, producing, directing and distributing their films to all black audiences. These feature films became known as "race movies." Characteristic of the new and growing urban middle class of the 1920’s, these films embraced the Horatio Algier success myth, which was reflected in their stories of heroes from the black middle-class, to provide inspiration to blacks hoping to obtain the ever illusive American dream. The theme of obtaining success, despite the obstacles imposed by racial prejudice was predominant in their films, The Realization of A Negro’s Ambition, (1917), The Trooper of Troop K, (1920) and By Right of Birth, (1921).

    The middle 1920’s saw the arrival of other black companies such as the Ebony Film Company, The Douglas Films Company of Jersey City, Robert Levy’s Reol Company, and others, but many of these were white owned or financed, with black producers, directors and distributing networks.​

    Of course, none of these small film companies could compete with the majority film industry. The best they could do is hope to make money by appealing to the mostly urban black audience.

    - Alan
     
  15. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    7,400
    Location:
    District of Columbia
    If that guy was chasing me, I'd be very afraid too.

    - Alan
     
    diane likes this.
  16. Allie

    Allie Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2014
    Messages:
    5,899
    There are a number of later "race movies" available on youtube. Some are a lot of fun, especially the ones showcasing vaudeville performers of the day. While a movie like "Gone with the Wind" was being considered enlightened at the time for using real black actors to play maids and slaves, a race movie made for black people in the same time frame by black people might show a landlord, a doctor, and a theater owner - all black.
     
    ForeverFree likes this.
  17. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    20,316
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    :laugh: Especially on TV they had Italians playing Indians because they looked fiercer than we did. They had better noses, too...ours were mostly just flat. When you think about it, there were sure a lot of other people playing other people so those other people would fit into their stereotypes better. :O o:
     
  18. Allie

    Allie Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2014
    Messages:
    5,899
    The famous weeping Indian from the 70's commercials was an Italian guy!

    Diane, true or false that Willie Forrest died of a stroke the same day he viewed Birth of a Nation? I read that somewhere.
     
  19. roberts

    roberts Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2014
    Messages:
    628
    He suffered a stroke while watching a performance of "The Clansman" the play that "Birth of a Nation" was based upon.
     
    James N., Allie and diane like this.
  20. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    20,316
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    That's true but it wasn't the movie. He was invited to the opening night of the play The Clansman, based on the novel, and the moment the actor who portrayed his father stepped on stage, Willie stroked out.
     
    Georgia Sixth, roberts and Allie like this.
  21. roberts

    roberts Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2014
    Messages:
    628

    Several Wilson biographers challenge the accuracy of this quote. They say that it was not published and attributed to Wilson until twenty years after the screening. Even so, some of the dialogue cards used in the movies used quotes from Wilson's historical writings. In a letter written years after the screening he termed it an "unfortunate production."

    While known for it's breakthroughs in cinema production, techniques and artistic achievement, it was clearly a propaganda film. So what was it selling? It sought to promote a view of the 40 year old war that would aid the Democrat party in northern states by undoing the effects of the Republican "bloody shirt" In this it was successful. It also spawned a second carnation of the Klan but this one took aim at immigrants, Catholics, Jews as well as blacks. It eventually had millions of members with strongholds in the north as well as the south.

    The film also gave a big boost to the Dunning School at Columbia University in New York. Their historical view embraced many of the tenets of the lost cause in interpreting the war and reconstruction. Eric Foner is currently the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia and he specializes in civil war and reconstruction also but with a slightly different tack....
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
    Dedej, James N. and OpnCoronet like this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)