Monday, 8 February 2021

the birth of a nation

Highly controversial, contentious and irresponsible though a landmark moment in the entertainment industry and film technique, D.W. Griffith (previously) debuted his three hour long cinematic spectacle in Los Angeles to an auditorium of three-thousand guests (first shown on New Year’s Day to a much smaller crowd at an opera house in Riverside, California under its original title The Clansman) on this day (not coincidentally the date that the ceding states reunited as the Confederacy in 1861) in 1915. The most ambitious and complex film produced to date with a number of innovations with a full orchestral score, an intermission between the first and second parts and sophisticated use of the cameras, the romanticised history chronicles the Civil War and Reconstruction through the experience of two families, one Northern, the Stonemans, and one Southern, the Camerons. Divisive from the beginning, the film wrecklessly promoted the negationist Lost Cause ideology that portrays the break-away states as just and heroic with all of its attendant supporters and reinforced, writ-large the worst, contemptible slurs and stereotypes that white people harboured for Black people. Ahistorical depictions of the Ku Klux Klan as a paramilitary police force that preserved social order caused the hate group to reorganise within just a few months after the premiere, the group having disbanded in 1872.