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Birth of a Nation - Special Edition [Blu-ray]
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More than 75 years after its initial release, The Birth of a Nation remains one of the most controversial films ever made and a landmark achievement in film history that continues to fascinate and enrage audiences. It is the epic story of two families, one northern and one southern, during and after the Civil War. D. W. Griffith's masterful direction combines brilliant battle scenes and tender romance with a vicious portrayal of African-Americans. It was the greatest feature-length blockbuster yet to be produced in the United States and the first to be shown in the White House. After seeing it, President Woodrow Wilson remarked it was "like writing history with lightning!"
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2013 by MFJ
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 morePublished on Oct. 30 2011 by Kevin Barton
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. Read morePublished on July 5 2007 by Rob Larmer
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 morePublished on Aug. 7 2004 by Jonathon Allsopp
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 morePublished on July 19 2004 by J
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... Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Rebellious Fish
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 morePublished on May 27 2004 by frumpy-old-spinster
I am one of the rare people in my generation who loves silent movies. This ranks among my top three favorites. Read morePublished on May 19 2004 by Sara M. Kay