Birth of a Nation

Director: D.W. Grif?th

U.S.A.| 1915. Tinted 16mm print with musical soundtrack. 160 mins.

A landmark achievement and still one of the most controversial ?lms ever made, D.W. Grif?th’s 1915 epic revolutionised the form and content of the cinema. This massive saga of the American Civil War and its aftermath was the Gone With the Wind of its day, with its staggering photography and superb battle scenes. But its ambiguous portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan provoked controversy and attempted suppression. Apart from ideological considerations, Grif?th’s ?lm was also attacked as old-fashioned Victorian melodrama. For many, however, Grif?th is the inventor of the language of the cinema. The use of such devices as close-ups, deep-focus, split-screen, dissolves, which are part of the natural vocabulary of modern cinema, were all taken to daring extremes by Grif?th. He popularised feature-length narrative, alerted audiences to the potential of ?lm for political propaganda and stunned fellow ?lmmakers with the revelation of the creative possibilities of montage.

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