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The Birth of a Nation
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The Birth of a Nation (1915) More at IMDbPro »

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Popularity: ?
Down 18% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Thomas Dixon Jr. (adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan")
Thomas Dixon Jr. (play) ...
View company contact information for The Birth of a Nation on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
21 March 1915 (USA) See more »
Mighty Spectacle See more »
The Stoneman family finds its friendship with the Camerons affected by the Civil War, both fighting in opposite armies. The development of the war in their lives plays through to Lincoln's assassination and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Is the historical importance of this film greatly exaggerated? See more (326 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Lillian Gish ... Elsie - Stoneman's Daughter

Mae Marsh ... Flora Cameron - The Pet Sister

Henry B. Walthall ... Col. Ben Cameron (as Henry Walthall)

Miriam Cooper ... Margaret Cameron - Elder Sister

Mary Alden ... Lydia - Stoneman's Mulatto Housekeeper

Ralph Lewis ... Hon. Austin Stoneman - Leader of the House

George Siegmann ... Silas Lynch - Mulatto Lieut. Governor (as George Seigmann)

Walter Long ... Gus - A Renegade Negro

Robert Harron ... Tod - Stoneman's Younger Son

Wallace Reid ... Jeff - The Blacksmith (as Wallace Reed)

Joseph Henabery ... Abraham Lincoln (as Jos. Henabery)
Elmer Clifton ... Phil - Stoneman's Elder Son

Josephine Crowell ... Mrs. Cameron
Spottiswoode Aitken ... Dr. Cameron

George Beranger ... Wade Cameron - Second Son (as J.A. Beringer)
Maxfield Stanley ... Duke Cameron - Youngest Son
Jennie Lee ... Mammy - The Faithful Servant

Donald Crisp ... Gen. U.S. Grant
Howard Gaye ... Gen. Robert E. Lee
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Monte Blue ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Harry Braham ... Cameron's Male Servant (uncredited)

Bob Burns ... Klan Leader (uncredited)

Edmund Burns ... Klansman (uncredited)
Edward Burns ... Klansman (uncredited)
Fred Burns ... Klansman (uncredited)
David Butler ... Northern Soldier / Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Peggy Cartwright ... Young Girl in Cabin (uncredited)
William E. Cassidy ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Dark Cloud ... General (uncredited)
Lenore Cooper ... Elsie's Maid (uncredited)
Sam De Grasse ... Sen. Charles Sumner (uncredited)
William De Vaull ... Nelse (uncredited)
Charles Eagle Eye ... Man Who Falls from Roof (uncredited)

John Ford ... Klansman on Horse Holding Up Hood with Hand (uncredited)
Alberta Franklin ... Minor Role (uncredited)
William Freeman ... Jake / Sentry at Hospital (uncredited)

Gibson Gowland ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Olga Grey ... Laura Keene (uncredited)

D.W. Griffith ... Himself (1931 reissue version) (uncredited)
Fred Hamer ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Russell Hicks ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Walter Huston ... Himself (1931 reissue version) (uncredited)

Charles King ... Undetermined Role (uncredited) (unconfirmed)

Alberta Lee ... Mrs. Lincoln (uncredited)

Elmo Lincoln ... Blacksmith (uncredited)
Betty Marsh ... Child with Dr. Cameron (uncredited)
Donna Montran ... Belle of 1861 (uncredited)

Eugene Pallette ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
Vester Pegg ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Alma Rubens ... Belle of 1861 (uncredited)
Allan Sears ... Klansman (uncredited)

Charles Stevens ... Volunteer (uncredited)
Madame Sul-Te-Wan ... Black Woman - Dr. Cameron's Taunter (uncredited)

George Walsh ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Raoul Walsh ... John Wilkes Booth (uncredited)

Jules White ... Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Violet Wilkey ... Flora Cameron as a Child (uncredited)
Tom Wilson ... Stoneman's Servant (uncredited)
Mary Wynn ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Directed by
D.W. Griffith 
Writing credits
Thomas Dixon Jr. (adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan") (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.)

Thomas Dixon Jr.  play "The Clansman" (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.) and
Thomas Dixon Jr.  novel "The Leopard's Spots" (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.)

D.W. Griffith  &
Frank E. Woods 

Produced by
D.W. Griffith .... producer
H.E. Aitken .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Joseph Carl Breil (music)
D.W. Griffith (music)
Cinematography by
G.W. Bitzer 
Film Editing by
D.W. Griffith 
Joseph Henabery 
James Smith 
Rose Smith 
Raoul Walsh 
Costume Design by
Robert Goldstein (uncredited)
Clare West (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Monte Blue .... assistant director (uncredited)
Christy Cabanne .... assistant director (uncredited)
Elmer Clifton .... assistant director (uncredited)
Jack Conway .... assistant director (uncredited)
Donald Crisp .... assistant director (uncredited)
Allan Dwan .... assistant director (uncredited)
Howard Gaye .... assistant director (uncredited)
Fred Hamer .... assistant director (uncredited)
Robert Harron .... assistant director (uncredited)
Joseph Henabery .... assistant director (uncredited)
Thomas E. O'Brien .... assistant director (uncredited)
George Siegmann .... chief assistant director (uncredited)
Herbert Sutch .... assistant director (uncredited)
W.S. Van Dyke .... assistant director (uncredited)
Erich von Stroheim .... assistant director (uncredited)
Baron von Winther .... assistant director (uncredited)
Raoul Walsh .... assistant director (uncredited)
Henry B. Walthall .... assistant director (uncredited)
Tom Wilson .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Ralph M. DeLacy .... property master (uncredited)
Shorty English .... carpenter (uncredited)
Jim Newman .... assistant carpenter (uncredited)
Cash Shockey .... set painter (uncredited)
Joseph Stringer .... set builder (uncredited)
Hal Sullivan .... assistant property master (uncredited)
Frank Wortman .... set designer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Walter Hoffman .... special effects supervisor (uncredited)
'Fireworks' Wilson .... special effects (uncredited)
Monte Blue .... stunts (uncredited)
Charles Eagle Eye .... stunts (uncredited)
Leo Nomis .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Karl Brown .... camera operator (uncredited)
Frank B. Good .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Robert Goldstein .... costumer (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Karl Malkames .... negative: Killiam Shows
Music Department
Fraser Macdonald .... score arranger: Killiam Shows
William Axt .... music arranger: 1921 revival (New York ) (uncredited)
Harry Berken .... musician: trumpeter (uncredited)
Carli Elinor .... conductor (uncredited)
Louis F. Gottschalk .... music adaptor: 1930 synchronized version (uncredited)
Herman Hand .... music arranger: 1921 revival (New York ) (uncredited)
Joseph Nurnberger .... composer: overture (Los Angeles premiere ) (uncredited)
Erno Rapee .... music arranger: 1921 revival (New York ) (uncredited)
Other crew
D.W. Griffith .... presents
Jim Kidd .... security officer (uncredited)
Abe Scholtz .... laboratory technician (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan" - USA (cut version)
"The Birth of the Nation; Or The Clansman" - USA (second copyright title)
"The Clansman" - USA (Los Angeles première title)
See more »
190 min (16 fps) | USA:125 min (video version) | USA:187 min (DVD) | Argentina:165 min | 193 min (2011 Blu-ray Restoration Edition)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Australia:M (2009) | Canada:PG (Manitoba) | Canada:G (Quebec) | Finland:K-16 | Germany:0 | South Korea:15 (2002) | Sweden:15 | UK:15 (official rating) | UK:U (original rating) | UK:15 (video rating) | USA:Not Rated

Did You Know?

D.W. Griffith agreed to pay Thomas Dixon Jr. $10,000 for the rights to his play "The Clansman". As Griffith had run out of money and could only offer $2,500, he suggested that Dixon take a 25% interest in the film. Dixon wasn't keen on the idea but reluctantly agreed. The film's unprecedented success made Dixon a very rich man.See more »
Anachronisms: Car tire tracks are visible in the KKK segment.See more »
intertitle:If in this work we have conveyed to the mind the ravages of war to the end that war may be held in abhorrence, this effort will not have been in vain.See more »


Wallace Reid---What Happened to Him?
See more »
61 out of 93 people found the following review useful.
Is the historical importance of this film greatly exaggerated?, 26 April 2006
Author: L. Denis Brown ( from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

I saw this film at a small "Art House" theatre when I was a graduate student. It was supported by program notes, and reviews of the film by respected critics, these stressed Griffith was a trend setting director who had made significant contributions to modern cinema. I remember three major developments were attributed directly to him, firstly his use of a mobile camera for tracking rather than bringing events to the camera; secondly pioneering the use of close-up photography in the cinema and thirdly the incorporation of pseudo-documentary sequences (e.g. the assassination of Lincoln) into a fictional story. I therefore watched this film with great anticipation; but as something of a young idealist I was more and more sickened by what I then felt was glorification of the KKK, and afterwards I was bitterly disappointed by my evening. I decided that if I ever watched TBOAN again it would only be when I was better informed both about American history of the period and about the work of other contemporary Hollywood film-makers. It is now 60 years later and I see "The Birth of A Nation" is scheduled to be screened on TCM next month, so probably the time has come to watch it again; and perhaps comments based on my original viewing so long ago may be appropriate at this time as the impressions I now have of this film will be those that have been with me for most of my life.

Films showing conflicts must present both sides as believing utterly in the righteousness of their cause; but historical films also have at least a moral responsibility to ensure the material shown has some reasonable approximation to historical accuracy, and whenever possible the convictions of both sides should be equally fairly presented. Most of the criticisms of TBOAN on this database derive not from its sympathetic presentation of the KKK but from the fact that this is presented as the only side which is relevant. We need to remember that slavery was introduced into human society back in prehistoric times - it was usually associated with a recognised obligation on the part of the slave-owner to provide a reasonable standard of living for his slaves, and alternative mediaeval societies from which slavery had been eliminated often did not do even this for their dispossessed citizens. Members of ruling classes everywhere lived a lifestyle which required the full time labours of many slaves or underprivileged workers to maintain, and only after the invention of the steam engine did it become possible to picture a world from which slavery might eventually be eliminated. Although this then probably became inevitable, its elimination has still not been completed; and in the United States it took place in an appallingly destructive way, part of which is pictured in TBOAN. Every nation has shameful episodes in its history which have and will cause distress for many generations before they are gradually outgrown. Recognising that the American Civil War did not result only from a dispute about slavery but much more from a whole range of economic and cultural issues, I appreciate that it would be grossly improper for me as a Canadian to seize on some of the controversial aspects of TBOAN as an excuse to condemn the film. I will re-watch it as a valid and important effort to document the concerns of the group of citizens it featured (although I will still reserve the right to feel Griffith should have made more effort to also document the concerns of those with opposing viewpoints.) My concerns here are directed more to assessing the importance of TBOAN in the development of the modern cinema, and I currently find myself siding with the relatively few users who have commented that its significance seems to be greatly overrated. When I first saw this film I had seen relatively few of the important early silent films, and it was easy to accept claims that Griffith's work was of overwhelming importance. Now I have seen other contemporary works; and have also come to appreciate that all surviving copies of about 90% of these works have totally disappeared (whilst probably half of the 10% of which copies still exist are not available for home viewing even from specialist libraries as the only copies are located in inaccessible archive collections). This is not brought out clearly by most of the 200 user comments on this film listed by IMDb, and it is so important that it has led me to pen these further comments. Film-makers in the silent era were extremely productive - Griffith himself is credited by IMDb with having directed over 500 films, most of them silent, and several other directors/producers have well over 100 films credited. Since so few survive, we must recognise how far our current assessment of early directors might change if we were able to see and compare more of their works. I believe that many innovations in film technology have been exclusively attributed to Griffith primarily because of the ready availability today of copies of 'TBOAN', 'Intolerance' and 'Orphans of the Storm'. I found this feeling very strongly reinforced when I had a rare chance to see a screening of Lois Weber's 'Hypocrites'. Weber was, for a time, the highest paid director in Hollywood and received a best director award in 1916 (ahead of Griffith, just one year after he released TBOAN). All I will say at this point is that, although I am admittedly relying on rather uncertain memories, I believe 'Hypocrites' was more stimulating for its innovative cinematographic techniques than 'Intolerance'. It would be interesting to know whether other database users have had similar thoughts about this or other early works.

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