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

3.6 out of 5 stars 343 customer reviews


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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Birth of a Nation - Special Edition [Blu-ray]
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Total price: $97.81
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Editorial Reviews

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.

Review

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

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Henry B. Walthall, Mae Marsh, Ralph Lewis
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2011
  • Run Time: 187 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (343 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005J7K9CI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,285 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is a review of the Blu-ray edition, a three-disc set, two of which are in standard
definition. How does BOAN appear in Blu-ray? Nothing revelatory here. It claims to be mastered in HD from archival 35 mm elements, not newly restored. The 1993 restoration is on
disc 2 in standard definition (and full screen) It is nice to see the film in what is presumably the correct aspect ratio on blu ray. This is probably about as good as the film
is ever going to look, and it is satisfactory, considering we are dealing with a film made
almost a hundred years ago. And in one medium to long shot, I thought I could see
on the neck of the female actor who played Mammy, obviously in blackface, the point where
they forgot to make up entirely the back of her neck. The picture certainly has never looked
better on any home video medium. Whether it looks better than the standard definition
version on disc 2 is perhaps debatable.

However, the blu-ray disc is,in my judgment, marred by the decision to include a newly composed score as the only music score
option. I find it to be undistinguished for the most part. After watching the blu-ray
disc with this option several days ago, I viewed several portions of the film last night
in the standard definition format (disc 2). Here we are given the 1993 restoration of David
Shepard with a 1993 adaptation of the original score of Joseph Carl Breil. This consists
of period-specific music such as "Bonnie Blue Flag," the infamous "Dixie," "Year of Jubilo,"
and other American compositions, as well as the work of several nineteenth-century composers
(I recall hearing strands of what I believe were Rubinstein's "Ocean" Symphony as well as
a composition of Edvard Grieg).
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