Birth of a Nation
The groundbreaking director, D.W. Griffith, made the first American feature length film. His film, Birth of a Nation, broke records and caused uproar of controversy. It was six times longer than the average film of that time, and introduced technical effects and the twelve-reel film paved a path for more directors to create the high quality of filmmaking shown in Griffith’s film.
Birth of a Nation tells the story of two families. One from the north, the Stonemans who fight for the rights to free slaves and the other from the south, the Cameron, who help start the Ku Klux Klan. The two families had become friends when their sons board together away at school. The families’ friendship is divided when they join opposite armies. The film is divided into two parts. Part one deal with the introduction of the Civil War, all the way up to Lincoln’s Assassination. Part two begins with the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, ending with the image of Christ after such an event dealing with slaves, betrayal, rioting, and never ending fighting.
Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles, California. It was first titled The Clansman when it was premiered. The film covered such a wide variety of issues that sparked controversy all over. It sparked protests and boycotts from African Americans. They felt their race was not portrayed in the best light. It had become so popular and so many people were seeing it that African Americans began to get upset at the entertainment on behalf of their struggles in life. When the film was first released, it was only aloud to be shown because Griffith got an injunction from the court. The racist nature of the film was a concern for council members and tried to prevent it from being released even though local censors had given the film the go ahead. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was among the many protest groups. The NAACP published a 47-page pamphlet titled "Fighting a Vicious Film: Protest Against The Birth of a Nation," in which they referred to the film as "three miles of filth.” One of the main issues for the African Americans was the Ku Klux Klan saving the day at the end of the movie. Also the slaves were put in a bad light as showing a slave lusting over a woman who is then forced to jump off a cliff to escape from the slave. The African Americans did not take these issues lightly. Still to this day, the racism effect is still prevalent as the Ku Klux Klan still uses this movie as a recruitment piece for membership in the KKK as they are glorified in the film. In 1921, Griffith released a shorter version of Birth of a Nation, editing out the Ku Klux Klan.
President Woodrow Wilson was among the...