Birth Of A Nation NR

Amazon Instant Video

(259) IMDb 6.9/10

Making headlines from the day it opened in 1915, "The Birth of a Nation" became the most successful silent film ever made, grossing over $10 million in its first run. Director D.W. Griffith's audacious and bravura achievement turned a lurid, negrophobic play called "The Clansman" into a three-hour epic that traces the Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan through the lives of two families. Denounced even at the time for its racism, the film's sweep and scope set a standard for film spectacle and absorbing historical melodrama, and it remains America's most controversial cinematic landmark.

Starring:
Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh
Runtime:
3 hours 8 minutes

Birth Of A Nation

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Product Details

Genres Military & War, Drama, Romance
Director D.W. Griffith
Starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh
Supporting actors Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Mary Alden, Ralph Lewis, George Siegmann, Walter Long, Robert Harron, Wallace Reid, Joseph Henabery, Elmer Clifton, Josephine Crowell, Spottiswoode Aitken, George Beranger, Maxfield Stanley, Jennie Lee, Donald Crisp, Howard Gaye, Monte Blue
Studio Egami
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Rental rights 7-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

How many other films can claim to have contributed so much to cinema?
The Movie Critic
It's not something people of today necessarily watch because they enjoy it (but there's always going to be someone who just HAS to watch this again and again).
Dead Kennedys
Birth of a Nation highlights how the perpetuation of a racial stereotype, however misguided, can so strongly be manipulated by a powerful film.
Robert C. Graham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Ellingwood VINE VOICE on December 26, 2008
Format: DVD
While it seems that many reviews posted on the DVD site aren't actually for this DVD, this review is specifically a review of Kino's Griffith Masterworks edition. The DVD contains the most complete version of The Birth of a Nation known and available. The film is 187 min. long on this disk. It is a beautiful print, well restored and re-tinted. A beautiful print. The musical score is clever and very entertaining too. I think of any bad thing to say about the disk. I think most know of the story line and its hints of racism. It's there and it can't be argued away. D.W. Griffith was a son of a Civil War soldier and grew up in the South. He used the book The Clansman by Thomas Dixon Jr. as it jibed with his own viewpoints and many of the day. The hero worship of the Klan actually encouraged its resurgence in late 1910s and 1920s into the 30s. The racism brought Griffith so much grief, he spent his life trying to justify his views and created Intolerance to offset the criticism. What brings The Birth of a Nation is its reliance on story and use of the film camera never tried before in the USA before. It is a cinema powerhouse and actually a pretty moving film. Never before had Americans seen the cinema come to life before. Some French, Italian and German filmmakers created feature films that are quite good and successful, but World War I basically destroyed their film industries and the US reigned supreme. DW Griffith took American film to the next level permanently. No longer were films relegated to the poorer urban areas and Nickelodeons. It was now a popular art form and respectable to attend the cinema. The DVD also includes a making of, and introduction by DW himself made in 1930, and several early versions of his Civil War films. It seems to me that because of the closeness to the time period, the films might indicate a closer idea of how former Confederates actually thought and how they remember the war.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Having read the reviews of this film in Amazon, I have four comments: 1)The best way to appreciate this movie is to imagine it's 1915 and you're in the theater.You're seeing stuff that's never been done before: close ups, an extended narrative, character development, crosscutting and all kinds of crazy things never done with a camera before. We take it for granted now: try to imagine yourself back then. 2)Of course, the sad part about this movie is that that African-Americans were little more than stereotypes (they weren't even allowed to play themselves!)But you have to remember Griffith was not unique in that respect. 3)I find it really disturbing that some reviewers would use this forum to espouse racist or nativist opinions. OK, free speech, but please... 4)Henry B. Walthall, who plays the "little colonel," appears in John Ford's 1934 "Judge Priest," where he plays a Confederate veteran.If you found him interesting in this movie, wait till you hear his speaking voice! It's a shame they didn't have sound in 1915. In sum: Worth seeing for historical content and context, but Saturday night? I don't think so!
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82 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Cato on May 23, 2006
Format: DVD
There is no need to comment further on this film because so many people have already done so. What I am troubled by are the number of people who have claimed that the movie is "only controversial to modern audiences." It should be noted that this is absolutely false. It was highly criticized at the time for being extremely racist, caused riots in several major cities, spawned movements to have it banned, and inspired African Americans to begin making films to counter its distortions. The storm of criticism was so intense that Griffith himself was personally terribly hurt and attempted the rest of his career to change the impressions people had of him because of the movie. Even President Wilson (who famously declared the movie to be "history written with lightening") had to respond to the criticism of the film by later denouncing it and its message (a fact that rarely gets mentioned when people use his quote). So let's not think that the film's message has only become controversial in our post-Civil Rights Movement age. The film sparked immediate outrage and critcism that continues to this day.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By The Movie Critic on August 23, 2005
Format: DVD
Few films have been able to spawn the amount of controversy that D W Griffith's silent epic has. `The Birth of a Nation' continues to enrage its viewers and has the dubious honour of being one of the most despised films ever made.

Every serious film buff eventually comes across `The Birth of a Nation', and the feelings that it creates are often mixed. It is the sort of film that is generally watched only by critics, film historians and those who are interested in the artistic and technical sides of cinema. These days, some people may have heard of the film, but very few have seen it. The thought of a silent film from 1915 that runs for a touch over three hours would put the majority off in an instant.

The film covers the Civil war, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the reconstruction of the South and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. D W Griffith astounded audiences with the introduction of many new filmmaking techniques that laid the groundwork for the future of cinema. Without exaggerating, practically every film made afterward must give some credit to `The Birth of a Nation'. The film is constructed and put together seamlessly and still looks amazingly fresh. It was once regarded as one of the 10 greatest films ever made, but the repercussions of the film have marred it's status. So much so that when the American Film Institute put together a list of the 100 greatest films, `The Birth of a Nation' was placed at number 44.

After its release, there were many that wanted the film banned because of the subject matter it featured. The film was accused of rewriting American history as part of the story shows the African Americans threatening to create a black empire and dominate the South, all with the support of Northern carpetbaggers.
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