Birth of a Nation was a film that broke several artistic boundaries in the film industry yet was seen as the most racist film of any generation. This has caused it to be a film under heavy debate since its release in 1915. One can never look past the racist depictions that this film portrays in it. However, to truly understand the film and explore its importance in the study of minorities in film, one must look at this film from all perspectives.
D.W. Griffith grew up in Kentucky under a father who was a Confederate hero and was the first to place the racial views in his head. Here is where the ideals of blacks and whites were created for D.W. Griffith. In his head and in his upbringing, his views of blacks and whites were real. The black race being lower then the whites and never really deserving of equality. That is where the ideal for his film Birth of a Nation originated. As far as he was concerned this was a heroic epic of the white people. This is the first context in which one must explore this film.
The second is what was going on in America during the time of this films release. No more then fifty years after the Civil War, this film was made. African-Americans were nowhere near finding equality or having civil rights that they were said to have or presumed to have. Separate but equal was still the main mindset in America. Most of the South still hated African Americans, lynched them, and the KKK was strong. When you look at all these social contexts that were going on during the time of the films release, there is no way that this film was seen as racist in the majority of the population. Most of the South probably saw this mov...
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... If it is possible to find one positive racial image, then I am blind.
Through its remarkable breakthroughs in film and what the camera could do, Birth of a Nation can be explored as a film that set the standards for future film development and masterpieces. However, one can never look past the way that African-Americans were horribly represented and depicted on film. This has caused this film to be such a great film to explore when studying film and especial minorities in film. This debate will continue way past my life and beyond. One must hope and believe that the ignorance of the few that still see this as a positive image of reality can be overturned and that this film can only be seen as a studying device for all those that look to explore the art of film and the sad realities that can come from the ideals of those who create film and movies.
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