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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. Georgia Sixth

    Georgia Sixth Sergeant Major

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    I believe Griffith made "Broken Blossoms" to make amends of sorts for the ugly culture that blossomed right after this film -- rebirth of the Klan and lynchings. I've read that, but I'm not sure if it was really Griffith's intent or the historian's interpretation. Either way, Griffith put out a very different view in that film.
     

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  3. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard Sergeant Major

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    Tacking shoots was used in 1910 in at least one danish move.(about the 1864 war)
     
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  4. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    I'm bumping this thread to alert all of you that PBS broadcast a wonderful documentary on "Birth of a Nation" last night. I just watched it again, streaming on demand at PBS.org. It is called "Birth of a Movement" and it's a program made for the INDEPENDENT LENS series on PBS. If it doesn't show up immediately in the animated menu on the PBS welcome screen, go to Programs > Independent Lens > Birth of a Movement. I don't think any of you will be disappointed. The program is mostly about the black response to the film when it was screened in New York and Boston, and about efforts to get the screenings stopped. Also, it covers the White House screening. However, I thought the film itself was treated very fairly by all the historians and critics. Yes, they discuss the racially biased message of the second half, and the fact that the film seems to have inspired the resurgence of the KKK, but they also say it was a technological masterpiece of a movie. They explain where all the key people involved in the movie and the protest came from, which puts all of them into a very detailed and understandable context. I thought it was fascinating.
     
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  5. civilken

    civilken 2nd Lieutenant

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    I couldn't agree with you more the movie was a total shame..
     
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  6. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    True it is also still one of the most important movies ever made. For sure it was a major influence for Joseph Goebbels. Nazi movies also were very explicit about sexual violence committed by " the other".
    No doubt BoN is still used by propoganda film makers to this day.
    Leftyhunter
     
  7. Youngblood

    Youngblood Sergeant

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    I finally watched it all the way through recently.
    It was hard to watch.
    But at least now i know whats in it when it gets discussed.
     
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  8. Eagle eye

    Eagle eye First Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    Well if we assume humans are born with NO prejudice or racism then I think it's likely DW got up to 100% of his attitudes from daddy.
     
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  9. Yulie

    Yulie Corporal

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    If you have Roku, subscribe to the free PBS station. The documentary is listed under the "Black History" section.

    -Yulie
     
  10. civilken

    civilken 2nd Lieutenant

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    I have to say I like your thinking.
     
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  11. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Major

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    BoN is the "mother " of all political propaganda films.
    Leftyhunter
     
  12. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    It was, indeed. Or, at least it was on a par with some of Leni Reifenstahl's films. Its redeeming feature is that it was such a technological achievement for its day. Ironically, the same was said of Leni's film "Olympia". Technological achievements can only be discussed on that basis.

    I bumped the thread to call attention to the excellent PBS documentary "Birth of a Movement", which centers on the political, propaganda "value" of the film and its resulting role in the rebirth of the KKK. The documentary treats the film's technological and propaganda values as two entirely different things, which I thought was a very fair analysis. I don't believe anyone would be offended by the documentary.
     
  13. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    It's funny. I'm unable to separate qualities about this film or sit still for an analysis. I'm honestly not being deliberately argumentative or trying to bring down the conversation- sometimes, when something is created in this world, like ' Birth ', it's ok not to attribute redeeming anything to it- even if true. I don't know. Seems to me a stretch, that's all. You can't put these aspects in the same conversation by way of significance; white supremacy, the KKK, an entire government led by a racist V. film technology?
     
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  14. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    I think most current day viewers would have the same problem. The documentary discusses this, too--the changing view of audiences over the years, and how so many find this film to be so difficult and repugnant today. It really is a worthwhile documentary.
     
  15. Youngblood

    Youngblood Sergeant

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    Here is the Independent Lens show 'Birth of a Movement' on youtube.


    I just watched it myself. It seems more about William Trotter than the movie though.
     
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  16. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Not to forget Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) which preceded Olympia and should really be thought of as the "first" true propaganda film, since its sole purpose was to glorify Hitler, the Nazi party, and the Nuremberg Party Rally. (The grandiose title was actually the theme of the rally for that year.) It has absolutely no story and is a true documentary though parts of it were deliberately staged for Leni and her huge camera crew. As for Olympia, it was in part the subject of an interesting film last year called Race which was about Jessie Owens and the 1936 Olympics with the Reifenstahl-Goebbels conflict as a sub-theme in which she came off alright and he's predictably the villain of the piece.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  17. Joshism

    Joshism Sergeant

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    On the subject of black actors in BoaN and similar films: even of a black actor was willing to play a racist role in such a film and even if white filmmakers had allowed it, what sane black actor back then would be willing to play the role of a black man assaulting a white woman? No amount of I was only acting, the movie isn't real, etc could probably keep the actor safe from being lynched.
     
  18. Youngblood

    Youngblood Sergeant

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    Yeah by both blacks and whites.
     
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  19. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 Corporal

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    Noble Johnson played Red Shirt in John Ford's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". Commenting on how easily Ford got on with Blacks, American Indians, East Asians, Gays and other outsiders of the time one wag said that Ford had too many pet peeves to have any time for the conventional prejudices.
    IMG_3820.JPG
     
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