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The Birth of a Nation


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Product Details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Mary Alden
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Writers: D.W. Griffith, Frank E. Woods, Thomas Dixon Jr.
  • Producers: D.W. Griffith, H.E. Aitken
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 17, 1998
  • Run Time: 165 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305130949
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,725 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Birth of a Nation" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Based on a play called "The Clansmen," D.W. Griffith's three-hour Civil War epic traces the development of the Civil War itself, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan through the lives of two families.

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
For example, without ever seeing the film, many Whites imagine southern legislatures during Reconstruction to have been as shown in "Birth of A Nation".
J. Friedland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 146 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 50 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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86 of 98 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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jake Marsico on December 24, 2003
Format: DVD
D.W. Griffith's 1915 epic silent masterpiece "The Birth Of A Nation" gets an excellent DVD treatment by Madacy Entertainment (yes,that's right Madacy!).We all know that Madacy has produced worst quality DVD'S (ex:METROPOLIS)through the years,but "The Birth Of A Nation" is an excellent example of how a great film should be restored by such a low-budget manufacturer like Madacy has done! I originally used to own this film on VHS (also by Madacy),but now that I have this version on DVD,it's even better than the original VHS quality print! Although the film is presented entirely in black & white,it runs close to three hours (175 mins) since a few bits of scenes were cut and in its original projection speed.The musical score is also excellent which includes excerpts from classical music to even folk songs which helps the film give a period feel to it.Extras are pretty much so-so such as the trivia quiz,and also includes an interesting poster gallery which includes three different posters promoting the film during its original release and also two publicity stills.I only give this DVD four stars,not because of the film itself and also quality,but the extras could've been more entertaining like a making of the film and also production info on how this controversial and groundbreaking film was made.But nonetheless,it's a outstanding DVD and that the picture quality is sharp and crystal clear which makes it more interesting to watch! If you don't have the money to buy the Image DVD version of BOAN,I would strongly recommend this version by Madacy.You will not be dissapointed!A real must-have DVD.
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