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Birth of a Nation

3.9 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Mary Alden
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Writers: D.W. Griffith, Frank E. Woods, Thomas Dixon Jr.
  • Producers: D.W. Griffith, H.E. Aitken
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Silent, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 165 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 6305130949
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #115,318 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

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.


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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
It's sad to think that this notorious and rather dismal effort from D.W. Griffith will be the first (and possibly last) silent film encounter for many viewers. Unlike another pioneering feature Intolerance (the main case for Griffith), Birth of a Nation plays out like an overlong American Biograph (the assembly line shorts he made prior to Nation) exhibiting all the trademarks: poor production values, distracting use of blackface, scurrying.... Frankly, if real black actors were cast in the more offensive, leading 'colored' roles, my objections to the film would be more muted as they centre more on its amateurish presentation than on its objectionable political views. Griffith is the pivotal figure in silent cinema, but his work alone cannot contain the creativity and visual splendour of the genre.
Still, if you must, this is the definitive DVD edition, a repackaging of the Image edition along with seven civil war biographs, a visual essay and a fascinating prologue. Yes, we'd all love to have a cleaner print and a scholarly commentary, but given the small market for silents, fans have learned to settle.
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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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Format: VHS Tape
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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Format: DVD
Silent motion picture historical epic, about a Southern family’s experiences during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and Reconstruction, based on two novels and a play by Thomas Dixon. The movie costed 110.000 $ and was a big box-office hit, (10.000.000 $ in its time, about 1 billion $ today !!) but it also inspired race riots , protests, boycotts and eventually a move toward film censorship laws. Released in 1915, this film was directed by D. W. Griffith and is notable for its radical technical innovations. The Birth of a Nation is considered among the most important and influential films ever made, for its success established not only the feature-length film but also the Hollywood star system ,Griffith as the leading motion-picture producer of the time and motion pictures as an art form for cultured spectators, stunning audiences with its dazzling spectacle of a still-recent event. Until Griffith's time, motion pictures had been short, rarely exceeding one reel; episodic rather than dramatic; and poorly produced, acted, and edited. Griffith's films were frequently several hours in length, contained powerful dramatic situations and vivid characters, and were produced with technical virtuosity. Besides that’s why he is often called The Father of the Motion Picture.
Unlike most of his predecessors, Griffith used in Birth a variety of camera angles and close-ups, for dramatic emphasis and moved the camera close to the action, using many separate shots with flashbacks, which for purposes of clarification of plot or characterization, introduce scenes antedating those already shown.
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