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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:

The Fiery Cross of the Ku Klux Klan! 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

The earliest feature-length film listed in "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

It would have been impossible for Mother Cameron to travel from South Carolina to Washington, DC, through a war zone, to visit her son. See more »

Quotes

intertitle: Over four hundred thousand Ku Klux costumes made by the women of the South and not one trust betrayed.
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 The Race to Save 100 Years (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Yes it's racist, but it's also groundbreaking and influential
24 January 2018 | by See all my reviews

I can completely understand your frustration with this movie. It's no secret that it's a racist film and did result in the revival of the KKK. But you have to understand what life was like back then. In 1915, nobody had ever seen a movie like this. Not just in terms of production, but in terms of editing, length, casting and attention to detail. It was the first time in history where a ton of effort was ever put into a motion picture. When "The Birth of a Nation" came out, people began to take film much more seriously and wanted to see more high quality movies when it was brand new.

As for the racism, it was sadly a product of its time, but that's not to say people didn't find it offensive in 1915. Plenty of African Americans were outraged over this movie and tried to have it banned. The KKK would even use this film as a recruitment tool up until the 1970's, although this wasn't the intention of its director D. W. Griffith. He probably had no idea that people would be outraged over this movie, but I don't think he intentionally tried to offend a lot of people, he just wanted to make a movie that people would remember and hoped to impress as well as shock. He did just that, Birth of a Nation is certainly impressive and shocking.

It is offensive by today's standards and obviously a movie you could not make today. But I do believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression and I don't believe in censorship. This film should be shown in all film classes so we can not only understand how the first big budget film was made, but to understand what racism was like in 1915. I am strongly against banning this movie because it's essentially the same as pretending the racial prejudices never existed, but the views expressed in this movie does not represent me as a person. I only appreciate the art and attention to detail that was put into this movie. It is nothing short of groundbreaking and way ahead of its time regardless of it being the most politically incorrect movie in history. You should definitely watch the movie as long as you are prepared to be shocked and see film history.


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