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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a Nation (Alpha Video)
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...
Published on July 9 2009 by James Dickinson

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is the SHORT version
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...
Published on July 18 2004 by Rebellious Fish


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a Nation (Alpha Video), July 9 2009
By 
James Dickinson "Front" (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (Silent) (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
By 
Rebellious Fish (Avondale Estates, GA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (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
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (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
By 
Susan E. Wood "Susan" (Rochester, MI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Birth of a Nation (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
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (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
By 
Rob Larmer (Harvey,NB,canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (Silent) (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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5.0 out of 5 stars How about adding Descriptive Video Service for the blind?, Oct. 30 2011
By 
Kevin Barton (Whitby, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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. Even voice narration should be terrific. These should also add to Mel Brooks's Silent Movie.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a Nation (1915), Aug. 7 2004
By 
Jonathon Allsopp (Victoria, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (DVD)
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. He includes historical interpretation, adventure and romance. It's unfortunate that he possessed such a twisted morality. The first half, which concerns the civil war, is very watchable, but second part portrays blacks as either ignorant or evil (mostly played by whites in blackface) and features the Klu Klux Klan as righteous heroes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just About Brilliant, July 20 2004
This review is from: Birth of a Nation (DVD)
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. Griffin responded by partially redeeming himself with the overly ambitious Intolerance. That said, the movie itself is brilliantly made. The acting, cinematography, direction and story are perfect. Definately a must watch for anyone interested in film as art or craft.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this film weren't so forgotten by today's filmgoers!, May 19 2004
By 
Sara M. Kay "pagan bookworm" (Newport, OR) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Birth of a Nation (DVD)
I am one of the rare people in my generation who loves silent movies. This ranks among my top three favorites. It is a classic story of the Civil War, told from the South's point of view (controversial at the time and still so today). "Birth of a Nation" tells the story of two families, one from the North and the other from the South, whose friendships and loves are tested by the war and its tragic aftermaths.
One of the greatest actors of all time, Henry B. Walthall, portrays Ben Cameron (The Little Colonel) with both physical and romantic grace. His character is a soldier, a son, a brother, an avenger, and a lover. He plays each of these sub-roles with dignity and skill not seen much in Hollywood these days. A beautiful and delicate Lillian Gish plays Elsie Stoneman, the woman he loved without even meeting her at first. Mae Marsh is delightful and tragic as the ill-fated Flora, Ben's little sister. Other noteworthy performances given are Joseph Henabery as an uncanny and kindhearted Abraham Lincoln; Ralph Lewis as the stubborn and powerhungry Austin Stoneman; the classic beauty Miriam Cooper as Margaret Cameron; and George Siegmann as the mulatto villain Silas Lynch.
This film has romance, action, drama, and even some bits of humor as well. If you're ever in the mood for a film which touches the heart as well as the mind and body, then please search out "Birth of a Nation". You'll be so glad you did.
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Birth of a Nation
Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith (DVD - 2004)
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