The Birth of a Nation: A Story Told without Sound

        This class is probably the most different and interesting classes I have ever taken at Murray State. This class in not in my major or minor, I just thought it would be a good learning experience because I am intrigued by how film and cinema all started. When I first heard that we were going to be watching a "silent movie" where the actors do not speak, D. W. Griffith's 1915 The Birth of a Nation I thought that I would be very bored. My reaction was the opposite though. Although there were many parts that I could not follow completely, I thought it was interesting how these directors, producers, writers, and actors all make a movie that people could understand without having the actors speak. We hold language to be such a big part of our everyday lived that we forget that stories can be told without sound.

        The movie was based on the Civil War and the Reconstruction Period. In this time, African Americans could not be cast in a movie because they did not have the same rights as white people, even after all of the hard work Abraham Lincoln and the North had done to fight for equal rights. To portray African Americans, the crew had to somehow paint or spray black colors onto white actors. To me, it just looked like dirty white people. I do not think they did a good job of making the white actors look black. I thought overall the movie was serious and sad, but there were a few comedic parts throughout the movie. I am sure that there were some more comedic parts that I did not catch on to because of the time period or because it was a silent movie. The costumes and the settings were very good for the time period the movie was based on. I have always loved the dresses with the corsets and beautiful details in the embroidery.

        At times, I thought the movie was hard to follow because the scenes would cut very quickly to the next one. The scenes were entirely too short in my opinion. Also, I am not sure if the acting at that time was different, but I thought the emotional component of some of the actors was lacking significantly. I thought the music was very fitting to the emotions portrayed in the scenes. When something was scary or action-packed, the music was much more intense, loud, and used darker tones. When something was happy or light, the music coincided with the mood of the scene. Overall, I thought the movie was interesting and different, but I do not think that I would ever see it again.

Lauren Daniel

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