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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.

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 »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 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)
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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 dawn of a new art! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

21 March 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan See more »

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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

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

Quotes

intertitle: This is an historical presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period, and is not meant to reflect on any race or people of today.
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

Referenced in The Motion Picture Camera (1979) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

What does it mean to say something is 'Politically Correct'?
17 July 2000 | by satya232See all my reviews

I don't think there's ever been a more maligned phrase than "politically correct" out there; the words immediately evoke a kind of liberal pseudo-fascism that some would have you believe is dominating freedom of speech and thought around universities and media outlets everywhere. I'm not so sure about that, but I am concerned at the counter-trend, of things that are labeled politically incorrect now proudly sporting that label as if they were a rebel, a David fighting these psedo-fascist Goliaths. That is hardly the case. D.W. Griffith's movie, far from being a politically incorrect movie unfairly condemned by the liberal elite, was a movie that perpetuated and, to a certain extent, created a Southern Myth that was damning to black people all throughout the country. The scary bit about this movie is not that it is one voice amoung many giving a personal recount of reconstruction. The movie is not presented that way, nor was it received that way. Until the 1960s, this movie WAS the commonplace, everyday understanding of reconstruction, understood by both Northerners and Southerners (aside: notice how the movie intentionately put as much distance between Northerners and Southerners as possible? The enemy is blacks and "radicals" (who were nothing of the sort), not Lincoln or the union soldiers. The movie was trying to appeal to a Northern audience).

Anyone who ever complains about the political correctness or historical "revisionism" of today's academics, see this movie. And understand, that it is the work of historical "revisionists" that are responsible for teaching the facts about our nation's history, grasped out of the hands of fictions like Griffith's horrific Birth of a Nation. And don't be so smug about complaining of political correctness in the future.

And don't try to seperate this film as an artistic work with the historical perspective of the film. Keep in mind, this film was not only a portrayl of history, it was also a *part* of history. It served to defend racial segregation, lychings, and the Klan at a time when all three of those were very real political issues. It is not a coincidence that the greatest period of lychings and Jim Crow laws came shortly after this movie. In short, this film oppressed people. So don't treat it like it existed in an entertainment vacuum, unaffected by and unaffecting everything else around it.


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