The Influence of The Birth of a Nation

         The Birth of a Nation, directed in 1915 by D. W. Griffith, is one of the first films of merit in the cinema. It introduced many ways of filming, such as the iris shot. Yet, much of this film's importance lies in the fact that it is a depiction of an actual historical event: the Civil War. The Birth of a Nation was one of the first films to interpret history. By interpreting history, this film had a great influence on the development of history.

         The Birth of a Nation depicts various parts of the Civil War and Reconstruction through the view of two families. The movie delves into the issues of race and hate that the Civil War was based upon. The Birth of the Nation is seen as a racist film through many critics' eyes, due to the way African-Americans are presented. They are vilified, especially by the fact that a black man tries to take advantage of a white woman in the film. This view ultimately led to the Ku Klux Klan using the film as a recruiting tool, since it stuck to their principal views. Also, due to this interpretation, many black film makers rose in response to "mend" this flawed picture, such as George and Noble Johnson.

         The Birth of a Nation serves as one of the first movies to present history on a grand, epic scale. Through Griffith's portrayal of Civil War history, it influenced the way many people viewed race relations in the country. There began to be much more public discussion of the way race was handled throughout the United States.

         Therefore, The Birth of a Nation is much more than just a simple motion picture. It changed the way the way history was approached, and brought the issue of tolerance to a new level. Griffith's film brought about many changes and debates in society, which shows that a movie sometimes results in much more than a few hours of carefree entertainment.

Megan Locke

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