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Birth Of A Nation Essay

715 words - 3 pages

"BIRTH OF A NATION" The film "Birth of a Nation," by D. W. Griffith, is a timeless and controversial silent film. Griffith attempts to use his one-sided philosophies to portray Caucasians and African Americans the way he sees them. "Birth of a Nation" was based on the anti-black play "The Clansman." The story line follows the Clansman family that is from the South and their close friendship to the Stoneman family from the North. This relationship endures Civil War and the Negro domination afterwards. Griffith manipulates the film to show his ignorant views toward the black race. The portrayal of African Americans in this film depicts the role assigned to them by the American culture for this time period. Motion pictures can reflect, reinforce, and reform society. At their best, they can strengthen positive social movements. At their worst, they can glorify the abomination of man. Together, however, they can reflect the social ...view middle of the document...

Griffith makes a strong biased relation for the white puppy over the black puppy as if it were worthy of the attention. However, the film leads the viewer to believe the African Americans are all treated fairly. Scenes show slaves dancing and clapping in front of their cabins. It also gives views of the easy workload endured by the slaves with plenty of breaks and relaxation.Next, the film begins it central focus on the effects from the Civil War. Ben Clansman returns home from the war to find his home in a state of disarray. Flora, his baby sister, greets him at the stoop wearing a dress with cotton stuck around the collar. Flora has evolved from an elegant child to a practical young woman. D. W. Griffith then portrays the white South under the control of the black South. The whites are disenfranchised and the African Americans take over all political processes. Election Day comes and they are given ballots to vote. Sylas Lynch, a black man, is elected governor. He advocates black supremacy. In many political scenes, the African Americans are depicted as stupid and lazy lawmakers. They sit in their offices with their feet propped up on their desk doing little work at all. In every day passing on the sidewalk, the whites are pushed aside by the blacks.Ben Clansman decides to form the anti-black group the Ku-Klux-Klan, which supposedly saves the South form the anarchy of black rule. Ben, who is in love with Stoneman's daughter Elsie, asks her to marry him and they become engaged. Elsie Stoneman needs help and turns to Sylas Lynch for help who also proposes to her. Elsie refuses but is overwhelmed by Lynch's drunken behavior and is forced to prepare for a marriage to him. Her fate lies in the hands of the Ku-Klux-Klan. The clan saves Elsie and white supremacy is regained. In the final scene, an image of Jesus Christ appears to somehow reinforce the behavior and signify the glory in the happenings.Finally, the film "Birth of a Nation", by D. W. Griffith, can be viewed by many audiences as controversial. Its low story line uses white actors and actresses painted with make-up to make them appear black is one of the derogatory genres of the film. D. W. Griffith clearly uses the picture to reflect, reinforce, and reform society to his liking.

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