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The Birth Of A Nation

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Apart from being the first full-length feature film in American cinema, The Birth of a Nation is also one of the most controversial and influential. Based on The Clansman by Thomas Dixon, which was both a play and book, the film is known now as Hollywood's first blockbuster. The cinematic achievements pairs with the controversial nature of the film to make it one of the most spoken-about films of all time. Though it is a silent film, the object and subjects are clear.

Most obvious in the movie is its promotion of white supremacy. Circling around the Ku Klux Klan, the story line glorifies the white supremacists. It is a long film, separated by an intermission. Part one takes place in pre-Civil War focusing on two families, the Stonemans and the Camerons. At the start of the War, the boys of the family join their respective armies. A militia of black soldiers try to break into the Cameron household to rape the women but are defeated by Confederate soldiers. Many of the boys die in the war and one of the Cameron boys earn the nickname of The Little Colonial. The first part of the movie ends with President Lincoln's assassination.

The movie shows a different side of the Civil War and its consequences. Its interpretation is that blacks could never integrate into normal society and suggested that the Ku Klux Klan's actions against blacks and other races were justified. Though the film was difficult to follow due to the silence and the amount of action, it was clear to see that the groups that we as students learn to have had their actions wrong, were justified in their motives.



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