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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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The Birth of a Nation -- 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 story of two families, one northern and one southern, during and after the Civil War. Griffith's masterful direction combines brilliant battle scenes and tender romance with a vicious portrayal of African-Americans.

Overview

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6.8/10   16,697 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 86% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Thomas Dixon Jr. (adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan")
Thomas Dixon Jr. (play) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Birth of a Nation on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 March 1915 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Mighty Spectacle See more »
Plot:
The Civil War divides friends and destroys families, but that's nothing compared to the anarchy in the black-ruled South after the war. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Awards:
2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
The first true American Cinematic Masterpiece See more (320 total) »

Cast

  (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)
 
Stunts
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 »
Runtime:
190 min (16 fps) | USA:125 min (video version) | USA:187 min (DVD) | Argentina:165 min | 193 min (2011 Blu-ray Restoration Edition)
Country:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
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?

Trivia:
D.W. Griffith directed 13 Civil War-based one-reelers before undertaking this film.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: The position of the window in the small cabin changes.See more »
Quotes:
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 »

FAQ

Wallace Reid---What Happened to Him?
See more »
21 out of 36 people found the following review useful.
The first true American Cinematic Masterpiece, 20 December 2001
Author: Bill Street (billqs) from Birmingham, AL

Perhaps it is fitting that the first American Masterpiece, is also one of the most controversial films ever made.

D. W. Griffith may not have invented every single technique used in Birth of a Nation (that is a hotly debated topic, since other filmmakers were also experimenting with similar techniques at around the same time), but he nonetheless provided a seemless use of closeups,panning shots, cross cutting and other devices we now take for granted, and put them in a package that made it seem like it was *the* natural way for a director to tell a story in film. And in fact it has been the natural way directors have told stories for the last 87 years.

It's unfortunate that the visionary scope of this picture has been overshadowed of late by the rising tide of Political Correctness in America. There is no doubt that bad racial stereotyping occurs throughout the movie. And our vantage point from the present can easily see that the Ku Klux Klan are not the right people to set up as "saviors" of the ways of the Old South.

But to appreciate this movie, one must watch with the hindsight of history. Griffith was the son of a confederate solder, the War Between the States was still within living memory for many Americans in 1915. And let's face it... Reconstruction was deliberately demeaning and punishing to the South. This was not Lincoln's fault at the film clearly states, but it was the policy of the Union towards the South after his death. The resentment of this treatment was still alive in Griffith and many others living in the early 20th century.

If one can put the subject matter into the context of the times the film was made, they will find a stirring melodrama with tremendous scope, and the Birth of modern movie making.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (320 total) »

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How is this movie not in the top 250 fish_stix03
Great film, horrible point bobbiekaye69
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Possible Explanation iaiacthulhufhtagn96
Lillian Gish Thecluelessone022
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