6.7/10
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The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | 21 March 1915 (USA)
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.

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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
... Flora Cameron - The Pet Sister
... Col. Ben Cameron (as Henry Walthall)
... Margaret Cameron - Elder Sister
... Lydia - Stoneman's Mulatto Housekeeper
... Hon. Austin Stoneman - Leader of the House
... Silas Lynch - Mulatto Lieut. Governor (as George Seigmann)
... Gus - A Renegade Negro
... Tod - Stoneman's Younger Son
... Jeff - The Blacksmith (as Wallace Reed)
... Abraham Lincoln (as Jos. Henabery)
Elmer Clifton ... Phil - Stoneman's Elder Son
... Mrs. Cameron
... Dr. Cameron
... 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:

Lincoln's Assassination. The fatal blow that robbed the South of its best friend. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

21 March 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$10,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

President Woodrow Wilson is famously rumored to have responded to the film with the remark: "It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." After the film became subject of controversy due to its heroic portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan, Wilson denied through his press secretary as to having known about the nature of the film before screening it at the White House, or having ever endorsed it. Nevertheless, Wilson's published works as a historian are closely aligned with the film's negative portrayal of Reconstruction (some of his writings are even quoted onscreen in certain prints of the film). Wilson was also notably a consistent pro-segregationist as President. See more »

Goofs

The South Carolina coastline does not have bluffs overlooking the ocean. See more »

Quotes

Mammy: [to a servant from the North, who attempts to make her carry his bags] You' northern lown down black trash, don't try no airs on me.
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

Spoofed in The General (1926) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good start but degrades into lurid melodrama
7 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

I have watched this film several times over the years, and I find the second half dealing with reconstruction a little harder to watch each time. Although its racist viewpoint may have mirrored much of America in 1915, it obviously was not the only viewpoint, since America had its abolitionists in the early 1800s. Griffith endorses just about every wretched stereotype put forth by the south during and after reconstruction, namely the venality of all northerners and the baseness of all blacks who did not completely bow to whites. A good example is that the disdainful depiction of the black-run state legislature is based on a cartoon, not an actual photograph or contemporary description. Griffith's portrayal of northerners and blacks is completely from the point of view of a white southern racist. Although I greatly admire much of his work, he deserved the criticism he got for this film. Aside from the political racism, much of the second half of the film is just silly melodrama, even based on 1915 standards and other Griffith work.


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