Showing posts with label D.W. Griffith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label D.W. Griffith. Show all posts

Sunday, 22 July 2012


"The cradle endlessly rocking"

Having come under attack following the release of his 1915 masterpiece The Birth of a Nation D.W. Griffith wanted to show in his next picture that intolerance of people’s views was just as bad and created one of the seminal early silent movies, Intolerance. The story follows four completely unrelated but thematically linked stories, each with the theme of intolerance. The story given the most screen time is a contemporary story of crime and suffering. Perhaps the most famous strand is the fall of Babylon while a story of Jesus’ crucifixion and one revolving around a 16th century French massacre are given less time but are nonetheless integral to the story.

Despite its age and overlong runtime the film remains one of the great classics of the silent era and is frequently mentioned alongside some of the greatest films ever made.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Birth of a Nation

One of the most famous and best films of the early silent era, The Birth of a Nation can be split into two distinct parts. The first part is a story of the American Civil War and features two families, The Stonemans from Pennsylvania and the Camerons from South Carolina. Early on the Stonemans are seen visiting their friends in the south and the beginnings of relationships occur between some of the younger members of the family. There is slight tension in the air though as the Civil War looms in the near future. Fast forward to the war and both families join their respective armies and in the end meet on the battlefield in an incredible battle scene. It is at about this time that the first overtly obvious racism crops up as a group of black militia ransack the Cameron home and search for white woman to abuse. This section ends with a fairly accurate depiction of the assassination of President Lincoln.

Part two, The Reconstruction begins with views of a battered and beaten south in which the formerly wealthy Cameron family has been reduced to rags and renting out rooms in their mansion. The head of the Stoneman family travels south with his protégé, a mixed race man called Lynch. With the help of black soldiers they turn white voters away from poll booths and create a landslide election win in which the South Carolina legislature is filled with black members. Lynch is elected as Governor General. With laws being passed which give blacks more rights and infringe on the rights of whites (intermarriage – the outrage!!) Ben Cameron forms an organisation called the Ku Klux Klan who band together to threaten and kill black men who attack white women.