Firstly, the cover is highly misleading and the people who claim that this film is about white knights on horseback, with burning crosses, obviously haven't seen the film. They have glanced at the cover and written a review. Strange.
My girlfriend and I just watched this and we were surprised. We were expecting a toe curling Nazi film with bodies of black people piled high up, with lynching's of blacks, and their babies being kicked, and rednecks chasing black people down the street. Well can you blame us? Just skim through the Amazon reviews, this is the impression given! Like I mentioned, the cover of the DVD is very very misleading because there is zero dramatic shots of white knights in the film and the Klan part is at the very end.
Anyway, this film is more a 'big-up' to the white guy! That isn't really racism. And the film claims that after the American Civil War, the North wanted to punish the south by taking the land off the whites and giving it to the freed slaves. In other words, the Civil War didn't end with the surrender of the South. Instead, the North wanted to collectively punish the southern whites. This is why they assassinated Abraham Lincoln. What happened is similar to what the US did to Iraq after the supposed surrender. Americans are still in Iraq plundering the resources. Well the historians reckon this is what happened to the South after the war.
Another big theme in Birth of a Nation is party politics and how politicians can use the engines of voting to influence their own agenda. Sound familiar?
The ancient Greeks had no concept of a mob electorate, you see, and this is the main theme in Birth of a Nation. You would never guess this my mere skimming the opinions of others!
Also, the war scenes are excellent. The actors here are the actual grandchildren of the real warriors of the civil war. Amazing!
Anyway, don't trust the uneducated Amazon trolls who probably haven't the attention span to watch an old black and white film. This is a great view with ones girlfriend and a king size popcorn (its over 3 hours)!
This is a truly amazing film, spanning the 15-year crucible surrounding the Civil War. It is pioneering in its length, in the multiple narratives that play simultaneously, and in the most ambitious sets yet conceived. The acting, in accordance with the silent-era melodrama, is absolutely first rate. It is a spectacle both moving and irresistible. This film demonstrated the power of the medium in entirely new ways, setting so innumerable precedents to explore and refine. In my opinion, it is a work of genius. Every image is like a romantic painting. Unfortunately, its themes are so crudely racist and laden with grotesque stereotypes that I had to laugh. The difference in mentality in the 100 years since it was made make it look as distant from our sensibilities as that of the middle ages.
The film presents the south's version of the Civil War: not only were they right to want to keep the obviously inferior blacks down, but their founding of the Ku Klux Klan was a holy and just corrective to the excesses imposed on them by meddling northern radicals. They are not terrorists but liberators, preventing lascivious mulattoes from raping virginal white beauties.
This is a film experience that every cinofile should own and that school children can discuss in context.
on 22 October 2000
...Previously, the cinema consisted of short one or two-reelers, which would not have lasted more than forty minutes, whereas The Birth of a Nation weighs in at a hefty three hours. Watching it on a small screen gives only a glimpse of the spectacle which this must have been: the war scenes stand up - along side those of Kurowsawa - as some of the finest in cinema. Not all gave it such a welcoming reception, however. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) were horrified at the creation and reenforcement of a series of black stereotypes: the rapacious "black buck" who preys on white women (represented by "Gus"); the "mammy," seen again later in Gone With the Wind, who implicitly supports the patriarchal, slave-based agrarian society of the south, and the black's place within the hierarchy. The real villans are, however, portrayed as mulatto, and the central ideological message of the film is that, while the Civil War saw "Anglo-Saxon" brothers fighting each other needlessly, when the races merge - as in the case of the mulatto - only bad could result. Both Lydia, the seductress, and Sylas Lynch are mulatto, and without their influence, it is implied that the tragic episodes of the Reconstruction wouldn't have happened. This is a pernicious message, which is luckily very easy to see through, as it is portrayed about as subtley as a poke in the eye. So this film, which led to a resurgence of the KKK in the 1910's and 20s, perculiarly also has the distinction of having largely formed the blueprint for a Hollywood movie spectacular for decades to come- just don't assume it is historically true!
on 2 June 2016
I'd bought three earlier SD and BD editions of this film over the past decade; I'll not be buying any more, because this one's picture quality cannot be improved upon. (NB US collectors: It is a Region B release...)
on 2 August 2012
One of the greatest films of all time, released in 1915, this film was made only 50 years after the end of the American Civil War and was the most popular film of all time until well into the 1930s. I say this because it must of struck a cord with a huge amount of the public that lived through the events portrayed. The policy of Reconstruction in America, as depicted in the film, was, in my opinion, one of the most destructive and shameful events in its history. The rape of the Southern States was truly a foul and evil act. Finally after unimaginable suffering the people had had enough and rose up against such tyranny. The film explores all the main issues of the day. Today liberals have tried to re-write history and you will be hard pressed to find any contemporary work truly sympathetic to the plight of the Southern States. I do not think any rational human being can condone slavery of any kind. However, the policy of Reconstruction is said to have set back the civil rights of African Americans by over a hundred years. To me the film is as relevant today as when it was first made. It could be argued the resentment caused by polices such as affirmative action only divide a nation not bring it together. As this film was made in the silent era some of the characterisations of some people are over exaggerated and some people may find that offensive. I would recommend all students of history buy a copy and start reading works by people such as Professor William A. Dunning along side the revisionist historians to get a balanced viewpoint.
The 3 disc set that was sent to me is region free.
[DISC 1 - : Nearly 100 years after its initial release, THE BIRTH OF A NATION remains one of the most controversial films ever made and a landmark achievement in film history that continues to fascinate and enrage audiences. It is the epic story of two families, one northern and one southern, during and after the Civil War. D. W. Griffith's masterful direction combines brilliant battle scenes and tender romance with a vicious portrayal of African-Americans. It was the greatest feature-length blockbuster yet to be produced in the United States and the first to be shown in the White House. After seeing it, President Woodrow Wilson remarked it was ''like writing history with lightning!'' However flawed, the film made history. In cities and states across the country, it energized the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which tried to have the film banned and censored. The film also inspired African Americans to move into filmmaking as a way to offer alternative images and stories. This is a newly mastered (in 2011) version of the film from archival 35mm elements. It includes new music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (2011), in 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 PLUS, spoken introductions by D.W. Griffith and Walter Huston (including the newly rediscovered intermission sequence).
[DISC 2 - SD DVD]: Is a DVD copy of Kino's ''Griffith Masterworks'' edition of the film restored by David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates in 1993. It contains an orchestral score adapted in 1993 from the original score by Joseph Carl Breil in 2.0 Stereo and ''The Making of The Birth of a Nation'' (24 min.) Produced by David Shepard and compiled and written by Russell Merritt.
[DISC 3 - SD DVD]: SPECIAL FEATURES (also on DVD ported over from Kino's ''Griffith Masterworks'' edition) that includes a filmed prologue to The Birth of a Nation (1930. 6 mins. Featuring D. W. Griffith and Walter Huston), Civil War Shorts directed by D. W. Griffith: In the Border States (1910. 16 mins.) The House with the Closed Shutters (1910. 17 mins.) The Fugitive (1910. 17 mins.) His Trust (1910. 14 mins. -- courtesy David Shepard. Music by Robert Israel, performed by the Biograph Quartet) His Trust Fulfilled (1910. 11 mins.) Swords and Hearts (1911. 16 mins.) The Battle (1911. 17 mins.), New York vs. The Birth of a Nation -- an archive of information documenting the battles over the film's 1922 re-release, including protests by the NAACP, transcripts of meetings, legal documents, newspaper articles, and a montage of scenes ordered cut by the New York Censor Board. Excerpts from a The Birth of a Nation souvenir book (1915) and several original programs.
on 6 March 2016
Birth of a nation!! Long, silent, pertinent....Its all good and now better because the quality is greatly improved on Blu-Ray. This is a national treasure in cinematic history.Its the Mona Lisa of Movies.... Its priceless and beautiful as a piece of art and cinema.
on 5 January 2016
Anyone who wishes to see how the visual vocabulary of epic film-making developed should study this film. Similarly, anyone with an interest in seeing how far race relations in the US have come in the last 100 years should also do so (although they should avoid thinking that every white person in America in 1915 was as rabidly racist as the characters in this film). Watching this film for entertainment is totally inconceivable. The reason I give it 3 stars is that this is a kind of midway point between the 5 stars it deserves from the sociological and film-history points of view and the 1 star or even less it merits for its racial attitudes.
on 6 July 2012
I found this to be a hard-hitting and impressive work, especially for its age, however, I am sure that it could not be made today, at least not in the same way, as it does portray African Americans as being less than civilised and in many shots it uses obviously white people with blacked-up faces which are almost comical in their interpretation. Echoes of Al Jolson!
It also portrays the Ku Klux Klan as being a highly chivalrous and honourable organisation, the saviours of the Nation, when in fact they have never been anything of the sort. That said, it was a very enjoyable and an interesting reflection of the American Civil War from a particular viewpoint. Well worth the money.
on 23 September 2013
Amilestone ,and a masterwork in Movies.
loved the Movie,I wish they would a made a Version today
loved it ok
on 19 February 2015
Still controversial after all these years,but a great historical film