6.2/10
23,110
375 user 101 critic

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

TV-PG | | 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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2 wins. See more awards »

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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 aka The Little Colonel (as Henry Walthall)
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)
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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:

See Lincoln, grant and Lee Achieving Victories as Soldiers (Print Ad-Boston Evening Transcript, ((Boston Mass.)) 11 October 1915) See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Austin Stoneman is based on Thaddeus Stevens, a representative from Pennsylvania, including the details of his wig and clubfoot. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

intertitle: While youth dances the night away, childhood and old age slumber.
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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

Most versions issued before the 1992 restoration have no color tintings. Early censorship and incorrect projection speeds have created shorter versions. See more »

Connections

Featured in Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008) See more »

User Reviews

Fascinating, expensive movie.
25 October 2002 | by Douglas_HolmesSee all my reviews

This movie had the stockholders quaking when they saw the costs mount. It was the most expensive movie made up to that time, and it shows that silent films really COULD create spectacle on a grand scale.

One of the posters remarked on how ridiculous the Klansmen's hoods looked. Actually, the original "ghost costumes" were all homemade and there was no standardized uniform- some had spikes on the head, horns, painted faces on the masks, etc.

I myself had an ancestor who was a member of the Reconstruction Ku Klux Klan, and they saw themselves as guerilla fighters against an occupying power, not as terrorists. Today we can condemn them. At the time, it must have seemed to them that the war was over, but that the battle lines were still firmly drawn.

This film is a good peek into the attitude of the general public in 1915 about Reconstruction. It became a national obsession, and probably gave impetus to Col. William Joseph Simmons's decision to "resurrect" the Klan in that year.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

None

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)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD) | (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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