• The Birth Of A Nation (1915) - Technically stunning but far too long and sadly openly racist - 3/10 (18/12/11)

    The Birth Of A Nation (1915)

    Griffith's "The Birth Of A Nation" is very particular movie. From a purely technical point of view, this movie is quite epic, experimental and mind-blowing for the time when it has been created. True fans and experts of cinema can't pass around this movie that also features some of the most appealing actors of the early years of American cinema such as the charming and gifted Lillian Gish.

    The movie shows us many bits of the history of the United States of America. The American Civil War is portrayed in detail and especially the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is filmed in an unforgettable manner. Note that Francis Ford Coppola seems to be clearly inspired by this dramatic scene that he almost exactly reproduced in the third part of his legendary Godfather legacy.

    On the other side, the movie is truly slow paced and takes a lot of time to introduce many different characters. Even for people interested in early cinema and American history, it's difficult to sit through a movie with a length over three hours. This movie has many low points and its narration is not very dynamic.

    What really leads this movie down is its wrong interpretation of history and its open racist resentments. Right from the beginning on, there is a quotation that tells us that the arrival of African slaves brought the first seed of separation among Americans. Later, the movie talks about obscure topics such as Aryan birthrights and similar stuff. This movie shows us many scenes where black-faced white actors rape a white woman, fear white children or menace white farmers. The role of the Ku Klux Klan is idealized in the movie and The Birth Of A Nation was in fact used as a recruitment tool of this racist organization and it even led to the creation of the second Ku Klux Klan in Georgia back in 1915. The fact that this was the first movie to be shown inside the White House tells us a lot about the society and politics of the United States of America back in the days but there were also negative responses as some movie theatres refused to play this motion picture for example. This movie is an interesting document of its time but definitely not easy to digest and to approve nowadays and it's good that things have changed. There is more racist and pro white propaganda in this American movie than I have seen in many propaganda flicks coming from USSR and the Third Reich.

    In the end, this movie is an important work for the early history of cinema. It's impressive from a technical point of view and at least interesting for historians. On the other side, the movie has many lengths and is certainly too long. The worst and most intolerable thing about this movie is definitely the openly racist, wrong and closed minded analyze of history. There is a lot of anti-black brainwash propaganda so you should be careful when you watch it and not believe everything the movie tells you about American history.

     

    « 28. Entrevue avec Vincent Côté sur le renouveau de la Ceuc Radio à l'UQAC (16/12/11)Bronenosets Potyomkin / Battleship Potemkin (1925) - he political message is questionable but technically this movie is a milestone - 9/10 (18/12/11) »
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