In the introduction part of the movie “The birth of a nation”  Director D.W Griffith, mentions “If we can feel the horrors of war through this film, our efforts will not be in vain” He emphasizes that he was concentrating on the reverse message, In the middle part of the movie, he said, "There is no intention to despise a particular race," but he also exposed the racist message of the original film without filtering. because it takes a bluntly critical attitude toward the acquisition of suffrage by blacks. In order to understand this movie more thoroughly, we have to understand the director’s intention and background of the movie-making process.

First, American filmmaker D. W. Griffith is one of the most important directors of world cinema. Especially, "Birth of the Country" is a representative work of Griffith, and it is evaluated as a work in which the maximum value of the cinematic technique that can be realized at that time.  Secondly, In the early days of the movie, it was mostly a documentary of the actual events or very short fictional creations. For this reason, the film was treated as an entertainment that would be shown together with a common show such as dance or magic, rather than as an independent entertainment. But Griffith was convinced of the possibility of a commercial feature film and wanted to make it happen when he went to film in the West.  But his Biograph showed negative response due to over budget problem. However, after he left his Biograph, he made his success with above film.


Movie poster
Civil war
Birth of a Nation in 8 Minutes-008:10

Birth of a Nation in 8 Minutes-0

  And when it turns to grasp the real message that director implies it’s really about the racial discrimination. The original title of this movie came from the Thomas Dixon Jr.'s novel title "Clansman", which was also the original work of the film. The novel's subtitle is 'An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan', which was a very bias view of the KKK tribe and its significance in racial violence against blacks. This is because the black people are vigorously criticizing the issue of securing the right to vote and securing equal rights with white people in terms of content and form. As a result, the film has had tremendous commercial success, and despite its subject-matter controversy, it has become a must-have feature in film studios due to technological achievements.

                    When looking at the plot of this movie, the superficial theme is anti-war and peaceful coexistence. The highlight of the first part is a battle scene depicting the Civil War, and the director shows the spectacular battle scenes, inserting the subtitle 'War is forcing only meaningless pain and sacrifice'. And the children of the two families keep their promises to meet again before the war by reuniting them from the center of the battlefield to the enemy, and by showing that the moment of this reunion will bring them to death at the same time. And after the battle, just after the subtitle "War's Peace", they maximize the irony by showing the shapes of the bodies that are lined up. In this movie, black people with specific roles, not extras, are all black people dressed up and shot in black, divided into two categories. One is a faithful soul that is obedient to a white man, and the other is an evil that seeks equal rights to white man.  For example, Cameron's servants belong to the former, and all of the latter are Gus, Silas Lynch, and the latter, who searched for a slave servant in the Stone Man's house or Ben's sister. And the congress, which was occupied by blacks, was portrayed as a group of bloody clans who had no basis for rule or politics, and a group of blacks as horny for white women. And the KKK is depicted as a knighthood that defends justice.

   Therefore, 'peace' that this film wants is to be a state of the past where there is an unequal class system such as slavery, not the life in which the two races enjoy equal rights. The attitude of 'black human rights' obtained through war and pretending that war itself is non-purposive also supports this interpretation.

“The Birth of a Nation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Apr. 2017, Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“The South and Film.” Google Books, Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“BBC - Culture - The Birth of a Nation: The Most Racist Movie Ever Made?” BBC News, BBC, Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“ D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“Ku Klux Klan.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Apr. 2017, Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

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