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The Birth Of A Nation [1915] [DVD]

4.2 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Mary Alden
  • Directors: D.W. Griffith
  • Writers: D.W. Griffith, Frank E. Woods, Thomas Dixon Jr.
  • Producers: D.W. Griffith, H.E. Aitken
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eureka
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Oct. 2000
  • Run Time: 194 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004UF0A
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,946 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

D.W. Griffith co-writes and directs this epic and controversial account of the American Civil War and its aftermath. It tells the story of two families, the pro-Union Stonemans from the North and the pro-Confederacy Camerons from the South, and the way in which they are both caught up in the turmoil which befalls a sleepy Deep South town when Northern Abolitionists threaten to outlaw the slave trade which has existed there for years. Things go from bad to worse when Ben Cameron (Henry B. Walthall)'s little sister dies at the hands of Gus (Walter Long), a black farmhand, and Ben dons a Ku Klux Klan mask both to avenge her death and to come to the rescue of his beloved girlfriend Elsie (Lillian Gish), who has been kidnapped by a corrupt mixed-race governor.

Review

" It is an unavoidable fact of American movie history, and must be dealt with " --Roger Ebert

" Birth of a Nation is a great epoch in picture making " --Variety --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
For those wondering about the quality of the restoration of this film: get ready to be amazed! This blu-ray edition of Birth of a nation has stunning video and a gorgeous symphonic score. I bought the MoC-edition of the film in 2013, and I liked it very much, but there really is no comparison. This stunning BFI / Photoplay restauration was made from an extremely good tinted print from 1921. Buy with extreme confidence! The extra's are extensive and very informative.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
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...)
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The BFI's Collector's Centenary Edition is spectacular. 95% of it is made from an original 35 mm step-printed nitrate print of the 1921 reissue from the Museum of Modern Art, with key damaged or missing sections copied by a duplicate fine grain held by the British Film Institute. Damaged sections were further improved from The Library of Congress' extensive nitrate holdings for Birth. The quality of this transfer far surpasses the previous US Kino and UK Masters Of Cinema blu ray editions. In addition, there is a newly orchestrated score to fit the transfer. While retaining the majority of Joseph Carl Breil's plan, there are some substitutions (eg. Francesca da Rimini by Tchaikovsky instead of Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King for the bombardment of Atlanta). It sounds superb either in LPCM 2.0 audio (48k/24-bit) or 5.1 DTS Master Audio (48k). What Patrick Stanbury, Rob Byrne, David Gill and Kevin Brownlow have achieved is monumental. I haven't seen any silent film close to this quality - it is really stunning projected onto a 150 inch screen. There is a second blu-ray disc with extensive special features, with several Griffith earlier shorts (he made over 400 films before Birth) and including a panel discussion which the BFI held for the Centenary showing. Birth Of A Nation is too incendiary and despised in the USA for any centenary anniversary last year but the film, as Kevin Brownlow elegantly writes in a chapter the extensive liner notes ("We Can Never Censor The Past"), it is the first masterwork of American cinema. It is quite extraordinary seeing it again in this edition.
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Format: DVD
The Alpha Film edition was restored, but has no special features.

The film claims the US became a disunion when black people were brought over here....ummm whose fault was that? The production follows the lives of the southern Cameron family living in Piedmont, South Carolina and the Stoneman family of Pennsylvania. Two of the men met while at a boarding school, afterwards becoming pen pals and eventually falling in love with each other's sister. When war breaks out they find themselves in battle against each other at Gettysburg. Later the Stonemans go south after the war and must join with the Klan to regain their "Aryan Birthright" against carpetbaggers, mulattoes, and Yankee blacks who dare to want equality and interracial marriage.

Many of the stages were historical recreations and D.W. Griffith made sure you knew that with a sign. There was actually very little in dialogue. It would show you people talking, but you never knew what they said, rather the sign would explain the scene. The second half of the film was like watching by friend Sean Hannity, race baiting and outright lies. Only the Klan could have saved Piedmont from the incursion of the black man. Southern blacks fought with the Klan which contradicted their aims in the legislature where black law makers have their shows off and on the desk and drinking from bottles. They passed laws to disenfranchise white people, make white people salute them, and legalized interracial marriage...about as factual as a Trump tweet.

On the plus side Lillian Gish and Miriam Cooper were screen gems.

The film is iconic including quotes from then President Wilson. Historically it re-energized the Klan membership because "truthiness" matters more than truth to some people.

This film was on my bucket list right above hospital sex.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
An astonishing, fascinating film, which shows the prevalence of racism as recently as 1915.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
The first, and perhaps the greatest of the feature films, D.W. Griffith's wonderful and controversial film is a must have for anyone with any serious interest in cinema.
The beginning of the film deals with life in the old South, and much like Gone With The Wind, showed nothing of the harsh cruelty of slavery. However, this film does not bare the title 'Based on a true story' and so, as with the racist struggle at the end, with a little education, this may be judged purely in terms of cinematography. .. I simply saw it through Griffith's eyes, and could not help but give a broad smile many times at the wonderful atmosphere that the film created.
The film centres mainly around the Northern Stonemans and the Southern Camerons, and the relationship between them. The civil war presents some spectacular scenes, including the superb sequence where the eldest Cameron boy rushes forward to the front line towards the guns and rescues the Confederate flag. The horrors and tragedies of war are shocking, but spectacular. What follows is the heartbreak of loss, the surrender of General Lee, the beginning of the revenge that plagues the characters throughout the rest of the film and finally, April 14th 1865. Ford's Theatre is recreated, and one of history's greatest men is gunned down in a tragic scene.
The heroin of the film is a Northerner, played by the ravishingly beautiful Lillian Gish. Her love for the founder of the Ku Klux Klan creates an interesting situation. She condemns her lover but forgives him when the villain of the film, a mulatto named Syrus Lynch tries to force her into marriage and is rescued by our 'heroes' in white hoods.
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