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The Birth of a Nation - Special Edition [Blu-ray] (1915)

Lillian Gish , Henry B. Walthall , D.W. Griffith  |  NR |  Blu-ray
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

The Birth of a Nation - Special Edition [Blu-ray] + Intolerance [Blu-ray]
Price for both: $50.95

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  • Intolerance [Blu-ray] $27.99

Product Details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Henry B. Walthall, Mae Marsh, Ralph Lewis
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Format: NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2011
  • Run Time: 187 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005J7K9CI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,122 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


One of the greatest American movies of all time! --American Film Institute

Product Description

Product Description
[DISC 1 - Blu-ray]: Nearly 100 years after its initial release, THE BIRTH OF A NATION remains one of the most controversial films ever made and a landmark achievement in film history that continues to fascinate and enrage audiences. It is the epic story of two families, one northern and one southern, during and after the Civil War. D. W. Griffith's masterful direction combines brilliant battle scenes and tender romance with a vicious portrayal of African-Americans. It was the greatest feature-length blockbuster yet to be produced in the United States and the first to be shown in the White House. After seeing it, President Woodrow Wilson remarked it was ''like writing history with lightning!'' However flawed, the film made history. In cities and states across the country, it energized the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which tried to have the film banned and censored. The film also inspired African Americans to move into filmmaking as a way to offer alternative images and stories. This is a newly mastered (in 2011) version of the film in 1080p High Definitionfrom archival 35mm elements. It includes new music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (2011), in 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 PLUS, spoken introductions by D.W. Griffith and Walter Huston (including the newly rediscovered intermission sequence). FIRST TIME EVER ON BLU-RAY!

[DISC 2 - SD DVD]: Is a DVD copy of Kino's ''Griffith Masterworks'' edition of the film restored by David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates in 1993. It contains an orchestral score adapted in 1993 from the original score by Joseph Carl Breil in 2.0 Stereo and ''The Making of The Birth of a Nation'' (24 min.) Produced by David Shepard and compiled and written by Russell Merritt.

[DISC 3 - SD DVD]: SPECIAL FEATURES (also on DVD ported over from Kino's ''Griffith Masterworks'' edition) that includes a filmed prologue to The Birth of a Nation (1930. 6 mins. Featuring D. W. Griffith and Walter Huston), Civil War Shorts directed by D. W. Griffith: In the Border States (1910. 16 mins.) The House with the Closed Shutters (1910. 17 mins.) The Fugitive (1910. 17 mins.) His Trust (1910. 14 mins. -- courtesy David Shepard. Music by Robert Israel, performed by the Biograph Quartet) His Trust Fulfilled (1910. 11 mins.) Swords and Hearts (1911. 16 mins.) The Battle (1911. 17 mins.), New York vs. The Birth of a Nation -- an archive of information documenting the battles over the film's 1922 re-release, including protests by the NAACP, transcripts of meetings, legal documents, newspaper articles, and a montage of scenes ordered cut by the New York Censor Board. Excerpts from a The Birth of a Nation souvenir book (1915) and several original programs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
123 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Version of The Birth of a Nation to Buy! December 26, 2008
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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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always Controversial May 23, 2006
By Cato
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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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagine it's 1915, and you're in the theater.... February 25, 2000
By A Customer
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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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of Cinema August 23, 2005
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL
I ordered this movie for a class. The assignment was cancelled, but I will keep the movie for future reference.
Published 16 days ago by valerie hollins
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound Birth of a Nation
There is a sound version of Griffiths Birth of a Nation. It has sound effects but no dialogue and it is only 107 minutes. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Phil W.
4.0 out of 5 stars Super as Always
All was just as I hoped for. Great movie and got it in two days. What more can you ask for.
Published 20 days ago by William E. Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars OUCH!!
It is very fortunate that this movie was saved, not only from the ravages of time but from the P.C. police. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Travel Junkie
4.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Icon
Disregard the ideololgy. If you are interested in American politics and the latter part of the 19th century, this film is a must see.
Published 1 month ago by Neil Robert Ringlee
5.0 out of 5 stars The Benefit in Shame
I'm like most of the people who have a hard time appreciating any achievements presented in the making of this film. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. G. Morales
1.0 out of 5 stars shameful
It amazing how the abuser pretends to be the abused. This is really not surprising though considering the history. Read more
Published 1 month ago by President & CEO
5.0 out of 5 stars American Classic
Sure, it has all the things that modern folks find weird about silent films, but also so many great things that aficionados love about silent films. Read more
Published 1 month ago by P. Messenger
1.0 out of 5 stars Racist BS
I can't believe a film that depicts black people as ignorant savages (portrayed by white people in blackface) and glorifies the KKK can be considered a masterpiece. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ry-Man
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Art vs. Politics
We're coming up on the 100th anniversary of this film that virtually made cinema what it is today. Are there hateful, appalling things in it? You betcha. Read more
Published 2 months ago by B Bailey
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