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The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | 3 March 1915 (USA)
The American Civil War divides friends and destroys families, but that's nothing compared to the anarchy in the black-ruled South after the war.

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Writers:

(adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan") (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.), (play) (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Elsie - Stoneman's Daughter
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...
Col. Ben Cameron (as Henry Walthall)
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...
Lydia - Stoneman's Mulatto Housekeeper
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Walter Long ...
...
Tod - Stoneman's Younger Son
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Jeff - The Blacksmith (as Wallace Reed)
Joseph Henabery ...
Abraham Lincoln (as Jos. Henabery)
Elmer Clifton ...
Phil - Stoneman's Elder Son
Josephine Crowell ...
Spottiswoode Aitken ...
George Beranger ...
Wade Cameron - Second Son (as J.A. Beringer)
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Storyline

Two brothers, Phil and Ted Stoneman, visit their friends in Piedmont, South Carolina: the family Cameron. This friendship is affected by the Civil War, as the Stonemans and the Camerons must join up opposite armies. The consequences of the War in their lives are shown in connection to major historical events, like the development of the Civil War itself, Lincoln's assassination, and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. Written by Victor Munoz <vmunoz@macul.ciencias.uchile.cl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The supreme picture of all time! (Reissue ad). See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

3 March 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan  »

Box Office

Budget:

$110,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$3,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video) | (DVD) | (2011 Blu-ray Restoration Edition)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, February 28, 1940: "Judge Donald McKinley yesterday ordered the Chicago Police Department to cease interference with 'The Birth of a Nation', which the police department stopped recently at the Admiral Theater on Lawrence Avenue. The court ruled that an injunction issued March 5, 1917, against police interference was still effective. The film will be shown at the Sonotone Theater, starting Friday." See more »

Goofs

The position of the window in the small cabin changes. See more »

Quotes

intertitle: [Margaret cannot speak to Phil] Bitter memories will not allow the poor bruised heart of the South to forget.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The following was listed in the opening credits: A PLEA FOR THE ART OF THE MOTION PICTURE: We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue - the same liberty that is conceeded to the art of the written word - that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Bad History
28 July 2003 | by (Champaign, IL) – See all my reviews

Anyone who thinks that this film depicts real history is seriously deluded. One commenter noted that the KKK was fighting for a good cause during Reconstruction, but not now. I guess to him good causes include killing and intimidating freed slaves who were merely attempting to exercise their rights to vote and make a living.

Griffith's portrayal of Reconstruction black politicians is not only racist, but blatantly untrue. Only in rare instances and for a short time did black representatives control any Southern legislatures, and this at a time when they were the majority of voters in many Southern states! For years teachers of Reconstruction have emphasized carpetbaggers, but have ommitted the fact that the post-Reconstruction governments were founded with the explicit purpose of disenfranchising blacks and violently enforcing their underclass status. For this reason and others, Birth of a Nation's claims to historical accuracy would be comical, if not for the horrific implications of the film.

That said, this film should be seen, mainly because it provides a document of a poisonous way of thinking that is by no means dead. It also represents the pop cultural moment when Northern and Southern whites reconciled over the memory of the Civil War, mainly to the detriment of blacks. Lastly, those who want this film burned only give ammunition to the idiots who still praise the KKK. It's better to let these jerks hang themselves with their own rhetorical ropes than to let them claim victim status.


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