6.4/10
20,629
350 user 92 critic

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.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

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) (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
4,069 ( 132)

Watch Now

With Prime Video

ON DISC
ALL
2 wins. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: Passed Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp
Way Down East (1920)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A naive country girl is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, then must rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Mrs. David Landau
Short | Action | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A group of bandits stage a brazen train hold-up, only to find a determined posse hot on their heels.

Director: Edwin S. Porter
Stars: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, A.C. Abadie, George Barnes
Cabiria (1914)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »

Director: Giovanni Pastrone
Stars: Italia Almirante-Manzini, Lidia Quaranta, Bartolomeo Pagano
Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director: Robert Wiene
Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher
Short | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the Moon.

Director: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès, Victor André, Bleuette Bernon
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Stars: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barskiy, Grigoriy Aleksandrov
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Two orphaned sisters are caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, encountering misery and love along the way.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Joseph Schildkraut
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising.

Director: Nate Parker
Stars: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller
Les vampires (1915)
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An intrepid reporter and his loyal friend battle a bizarre secret society of criminals known as The Vampires.

Director: Louis Feuillade
Stars: Musidora, Édouard Mathé, Marcel Lévesque
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Young Mary feels like a prisoner in the New York apartments of her step-father John Bussard but everything changes when her heartless guardian dies in an accident. Mary is left a fortune ... See full synopsis »

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: Marion Davies, Norman Kerry, Matt Moore
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry B. Walthall ... Colonel Ben Cameron aka The Little Colonel (as Henry Walthall)
Lillian Gish ... Elsie - Stoneman's Daughter
Mae Marsh ... Flora Cameron - the Pet Sister
Miriam Cooper ... Margaret Cameron - the Elder Sister
Mary Alden ... Lydia Brown - 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 - the Second Son (as J.A. Beringer)
Edit

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

21 March 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$10,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Ironically, D.W. Griffith had previously produced and directed Biograph's The Rose of Kentucky (1911), which showed the Ku Klux Klan as villainous--a sharp contrast to this film, made four years later, in which the KKK was portrayed in a favorable light. See more »

Goofs

Car tire tracks are visible in the KKK segment. See more »

Quotes

Mammy: [Mammy and servant from North circle each other and glare] Dem free-niggers f'um de N'of am sho' crazy.
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 »

Alternate Versions

The VHS of Birth Of A Nation runs at 125min.The Fully Uncut version is the DVD version and it runs 190min See more »

Connections

Featured in The Yes Men (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Is the historical importance of this film greatly exaggerated?
26 April 2006 | by bbhlthphSee all my reviews

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.


73 of 116 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 350 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows to Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse all our free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed