Birth of a Nation

Topics: The Birth of a Nation, Ku Klux Klan, Silent film Pages: 4 (1323 words) Published: June 12, 2011
The silent film I chose to watch “The Birth of a Nation” is a 1915 American drama, directed by D.W Griffith, produced by D.W. Griffith and Harry Aitken, co-written by D.W Griffith, T.F. Dixon J.R. and Frank E. Woods, and was based on the novel and play “The Clansman” both by T.F. Dixon J.R. It was originally released on February 8, 1915 and was presented in two parts, separated by an intermission, as it is over three hours long.

The film follows the lives of two families in Civil War era America. The pro Union, northern Stoneman’s and the pro Confederacy, southern Cameron’s over the course of several years. On a visit to the Cameron’s southern estate the eldest Stoneman son Phil falls in love with Margaret Cameron. Correspondingly, Ben Cameron see’s a photograph of, and begins to fall for Elsie Stoneman. As the picture progresses though, the families split as the boys join their respective armies. While the boys are away at war a black militia pillages the Cameron household. The Cameron women are rescued when Confederate soldiers overtake the militia. Meanwhile, the younger Stoneman and two of the Cameron brothers meet once again on the battlefield just before they are killed.

Ben Cameron is wounded after a heroic charge at the battle of Petersburg, in which he gains the nickname "the Little Colonel". He is taken to a Northern hospital where, coincidentally, he finally meets Elsie, who is working there as a nurse. While recovering, Cameron is told that he will be hanged for being a guerrilla. Elsie takes Cameron's mother, who has traveled to Washington to tend her son, to see President Lincoln himself. With her emotional appeal Mrs. Cameron persuades Lincoln to issue a pardon. After Lee surrenders and the War is over President Lincoln is assassinated, which is depicted on screen with the likeness of Lincoln being stunningly convincing. It is then that Austin Stoneman assumes great power in Congress. He sends his protégé, the mulatto Silas Lynch, to...
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