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Birth of a Nation

Lillian Gish , Mae Marsh , D.W. Griffith    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 32.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

A pivotal moment in film history. After The Birth of a Nation, nothing was the same: not the way audiences watched movies, not the way filmmakers created them. D.W. Griffith's jumbo-size saga of the Civil War expanded the boundaries of storytelling on the screen, conveying a richer, more complicated (and certainly longer) tale than anyone had seen in a movie before. The delicate relationships, the sad passage of time, the spectacular battle scenes all look as fresh and innovative today as they did in 1915. So do Griffith's brilliant actors, most of them--including favorite leading lady Lillian Gish--drawn from his regular stock company. What has become increasingly problematic about The Birth of a Nation is Griffith's condescending attitude toward black slaves, and the ringing excitement surrounding the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. Griffith, whose political ideas were naive at best, seemed genuinely surprised by the criticism of his masterwork, and for his next project he turned to the humanist preaching of the massive Intolerance. Despite protests, Birth sold more tickets than any other movie, a record that stood for decades, and President Woodrow Wilson famously compared it to "history written in lightning." That judgment has lasted. --Robert Horton

Product Description

Based on a play called "The Clansmen," D.W. Griffith's three-hour Civil War epic traces the development of the Civil War itself, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan through the lives of two families.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a Nation (Alpha Video) July 9 2009
Format:DVD
One general problem with most of the DVD reviews found on Amazon is that they focus too much on the plot and background of a movie, but do NOT go into the technical details of the quality of the overall viewing experience. In the case of "public domain" films, it is the quality of the print used to transfer the movie to DVD which too often makes or breaks the enjoyment of the viewing experience. I've learned this the hard way and now have complete confidence in some studios (Kino, Legend Films, and not as much to absolutely none in others.

I shall skip the plot summary of Birth of A Nation and the controversy surrounding the movie because I am sure most people reading this are VERY familiar with it all. Instead, I'll simply say that since the price was right, I recently purchased the Alpha Video version and was VERY pleasantly surprised. The picture was sharp and clear, and there didn't appear to be much damage on the print they had used to make the movie. Clearly, someone at the studio had put his foot down to ensure that a high-quality product was produced, or perhaps they simply lucked out and found a really well-preserved copy of the film. In any event, I liked what I saw a lot. I got a hold of a copy from Kino (a studio I purchase DVDs from without a second thought)to compare the quality, and thought that the Alpha Video version was much sharper and enjoyable to watch. It is just a pity that it doesn't have all the supplementary features that comes with the Kino version.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is the SHORT version July 18 2004
Format:DVD
This film was one of the assigned viewings for a History of Film class. The professor specified the 180 minute version and specifically described the ending as being important to a complete analysis of the work. My bad for not checking the specifics for this edition, but be forewarned: if you want the full version, this is NOT it. This version ends with Liberation. Several other key scenes appear to have been edited out.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not as great as i was expecting April 15 2004
Format:DVD
I've heard a lot about Griffith's movie as being an important one in film history. So I watched it. First of all, this movie is extremely racist. Even taking in the time that Griffith lived and the setting of the Civil War, the racism still was over the top. And the movie was dull, though it did get slightly better as it went on. So what you have here is three hours of a boring movie that is extremely racist. I'm just not sure what to make of it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and infuriating March 27 2002
Format:DVD
I show this movie, or at least the last 40 minutes of it, to students in my classes as part of our debate on artistic freedom and censorship -- because I know I can count on it to offend them. In fact, the reason I have bought a copy of the DVD is that the department's old video copy is worn out by now from the number of times it's been used in class. By every possible moral measure, this movie is incredibly offensive, with its crude racial stereotypes, its rewriting of American history to portray white Southerners as the "victims" of Blacks who claimed their political rights as voting citizens after the Civil War, and its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. And it can't be dismissed as "just a movie," because its release had real consequences, leading to race riots, lynchings, and worst of all, the re-formation of the Klan, which had almost entirely died out before the movie was released.
And yet, as any historian of cinema can tell you, it was technically and artistically a landmark, the first movie epic, the first really ambitious effort at complex story-telling and spectacle in the new medium. Every movie epic that has been made since then owes something to this film. All of this makes for some very lively classroom discussions: should this movie still be shown to public audiences? If someone wanted to show it on this campus as part of a program on the history of cinema, would you support their right to show it, or would you protest the use of your tuition and fees for a purpose like that? Do we want to be accused of "political correctness?" Do we want to be accused of inciting to riot?
So, do I admire this movie or hate it? Well, both. That's why I split the difference between 5 stars for artistic merit and 0 stars for political irresponsibility, and averaged them out at three.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Historically important, but . . . Sept. 29 2000
Format:DVD
I am always amused whenever critics attempt to praise this film. They have to add a proviso that they cannot approve of Griffith's disgusting attitude toward blacks (whom he would have called "negroes" or worse), and his outrageous portrayal of the KKK as the saviors and preservers of the good and the pure. The film was supposed to have been titled "The Clansman," after the ludicrous book that inspired Griffith to make The Birth of a Nation. I wonder how many of this film's praises have been sung by African-Americans? I happen to be one of the whitest men in America, and yet I believe this film should be universally reviled - not banned but despised.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The birth of an art form July 5 2007
Format:DVD
The Birth of a Nation was a film I didn't watch due to the controversy, but rather because of its age and my desire to view the roots of cinema. I was initially quite shocked by the level of racism, but eventually put my views aside in order to appreciate the camera, plot and style. I can honestly say that The Birth of a Nation has given birth to cinema as an artistic medium.

The style in which The Birth of a Nation is told may not appear to be anything special at first, but it was unheard of at its time. Griffith pioneered a style that has had a heavy influence on modern filmmaking from Mel Gibson's epics to Martin Scorsese's crime dramas.

Like Eisenstein and Chaplin, Griffith has earned his place as one of the founding fathers of cinema, and despite its racism I can respect The Birth of a Nation as an influential and important film.

9/10 for its influence and execution of plot.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do...
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Read more
Published 15 months ago by F. Marra
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sur toute la ligne !
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Read more
Published 17 months ago by MFJ
5.0 out of 5 stars How about adding Descriptive Video Service for the blind?
Even though this is a silent movie, adding Descriptive Video Service for the blind should be an excellent idea because it will show exactly what happens in the movie. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2011 by Kevin Barton
2.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a Nation (1915)
This film truly demonstrates Griffith's genius as a director, producer and editor. He manages to tell an epic of a story with bold camera work, clever cuts and balanced pacing. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2004 by Jonathon Allsopp
5.0 out of 5 stars Just About Brilliant
Using the KKK as heroes is in astonishingly poor taste. Even then, in much lass enlightened times, Griffin was taken to the woodshed and taken to task. Read more
Published on July 20 2004 by J
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film ever made...
This film is not "deeply disturbibg" or is it "only for film historians", people who wrote bad reviews on this dvd, obviously are not inteligent enough, and the film went over... Read more
Published on May 27 2004 by frumpy-old-spinster
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this film weren't so forgotten by today's filmgoers!
I am one of the rare people in my generation who loves silent movies. This ranks among my top three favorites. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Sara M. Kay
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this film weren't so forgotten by today's filmgoers!
I am one of the rare people in my generation who loves silent movies. This ranks among my top three favorites. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Sara M. Kay
3.0 out of 5 stars A monumental if deeply disturbing film
I can only liken finally watching "Birth of a Nation" to the times when I have viewed Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda films -- I admire the filmmaking but I deplore the content. Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Daniel S. Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie!
I recently saw this movie for the first time and I was really
impressed. This movie was made in 1915 but the battle scenes are
as good as any ever put in motion... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Robert Cheek
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