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

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Overview

User Rating:
6.9/10   13,833 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Thomas F. Dixon Jr. (adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan")
Thomas F. 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:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
VISUALLY ENLIGHTENING AND SOCIALLY DISHEARTENING "BIRTH" STILL A 10. See more (302 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)

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

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

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
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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
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:o.Al. | South Korea:15 (2002) | Sweden:15 | UK:U (original rating) | UK:15 (video rating) | USA:Not Rated

Did You Know?

Trivia:
D.W. Griffith's father served as an officer in the Confederate army during the Civil War.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: The position of the window in the small cabin changes.See more »
Quotes:
intertitle:[Sherman's march] While women and children weep, a great conqueror marches to the sea.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Roast-Beef and Movies (1934)See more »

FAQ

Wallace Reid---What Happened to Him?
See more »
106 out of 154 people found the following review useful.
VISUALLY ENLIGHTENING AND SOCIALLY DISHEARTENING "BIRTH" STILL A 10., 9 February 2004
Author: Auburn (trashmen@earthlink.net) from Atlanta, Georgia

D.W. Griffith's Civil War shorts were only a prelude to what has become one of the world's crowning cinematic achievements and one of its most painfully embarrassing moments concurrently.

To this day it still causes not only controversy but even verbal warfare amongst friends and critics. But if films were judged solely on their subject matter many of our classics would have been tossed into the garbage hamper. As being such, I will not let that taint my opinion of it.

"Birth of a Nation" succeeds on so many levels its difficult to find a place to start. Perhaps its best to say that Griffith may have considered what he may be starting hence the freedom of speech title screen at the beginning. For not shying away from controversy alone Griffith deserves his merits. His use of tinting is outstanding. Some may say (and they may be right) that Griffith is the father of the modern screenplay. His use of setup, turning point, confrontation, turning point, resolution, and conclusion is still the formula used today and is usually the formula that has graced every best picture winner at the Oscars ever since their 1927 beginnings. The catch: there was no written screenplay. Griffith made this film in his mind as he went along. THAT is genius.

The battle spectacle scenes were unequaled in their day. This wasn't another day's work. This was a big budget, Hollywood, parade of the extras, grand scale masterpiece. One gets the sense that the real war was just getting the war scenes filmed. Father of the close-up, father of the chase scene (on two fronts: individual after individual and group after group), father of showing synchronous events on two different stages, the buildup of dramatic climax, and the list goes on. Outstanding use of camera angles (the perch overlooking the valley during Sherman's march comes to mind here), and historically accurate enactments (Lincoln's assassination) score big as well. This was "Citizen Kane" a quarter of a century before there was a "Citizen Kane."

The acting is surprisingly very well done. Henry Walthall does a fine job as the star of the film but George Siegmann, Walter Long, and Ralph Lewis are three of the most villainous characters to ever grace a silent era film. And I would be amiss to not mention Lilian Gish who absolutely sizzles here. After all these years she is still one of the most charming and beautiful women I've ever seen in my life. Griffith obviously thought so as he used her in his other three masterpieces as well.

But for all of its cinematic showcasing, the film's image will forever be scarred by its outlandish racial prejudices. And make no mistake about it, its a difficult watch. As a white, its still difficult for me. As a black, I cannot imagine. It is so easy for me to sit here and say to separate its art from its viewpoint but that simply isn't realistic. Should it be required viewing? Yes. Would I blame any black for not wanting to watch it or hating it after seeing it? Absolutely not. I understand where you are coming from. The unfortunate thing is that the film could have succeeded without this viewpoint by simply making the south's new oppressors white union soldiers. It IS historically accurate to say that president Andrew Johnson did indeed want to crush the southern elite into oblivion after the war which is one of the things that led to his impeachment. But Johnson, who is strangely not even mentioned in the film following Lincoln's assassination, certainly would not have employed northern blacks to do the crushing. I understand the film was following Thomas Dixon's novel and play but to not even address how Ralph Lewis' senatorial powers overshadowed Johnson's presidential ones and those of Congress' 1866 Civil Rights Bill is proof enough that the film goes out of its way to make northern blacks the villains. Griffith's only defense, and it is a SMALL defense, is that southern blacks are still apparently our friends. Griffith was the son of a Confederate fighter which may explain some of his views. But certainly he did not want to be a hate-monger. He tried to apologize with the making of his next film, the masterpiece "Intolerance." He certainly had black friends on the set during the making of "Birth of a Nation" but this harks of the classic case of the good man who doesn't realize that some of the things he is saying are hurtful. I don't think it really dawned on him. This however is a trivial compensation at best.

But at the end of the day, D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" is still a landmark achievement not just in film but in popular culture. After its release film became a way of life for America instead of a treat you helped yourself to once in a while. Not until Hitchcock would a director ever again be the star of his own films, wielding a control and vision so unique that their name is forever welded to our memory, for the better or the worse. So many firsts. So much controversy. And controversy,ironically enough, has been Hollywood's middle name now for the last 50 years.

The nutshell: absolute required viewing for all things considered. Watch with caution and prepare to be disturbed. Not being able to watch it is easily understood. One of the 100 greatest films of all time...10/10.



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