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The Birth Of A Nation [VHS]

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 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
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Connoisseur
  • VHS Release Date: 24 Jan. 2000
  • Run Time: 194 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004COH4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,002 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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: 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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Format: DVD
It's a great nuisance the Connoisseur Video version is only on video, because to my mind it's considerably superior. This one lacks the tinted sequences (sepia in parts, red for the burning of Atlanta) and, much worse, the music sounds like the third form doing its best. That may, for all I know, be more authentic, but music is so important in a silent that this is authenticity I could do without. On the other hand, the sharpness and overall quality of the print is really quite amazing - especially compared to much more recent films such as Lost Horizon.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
As good a transfer as you can expect for a film over 100 years old. It is fascinating even if it leaves a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth. I suspect this is only really to be enjoyed by those fascinated by early cinema. The extras are very relevant and the notes interesting. The blu ray delivers as well as one could expect in the circumstances.
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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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By A Customer on 9 April 2003
Format: VHS Tape
A truely facinating, but hughly alrming film. It is bemusing how a film which lasts over three and a half hours can be so compelling when there is not one word of spoken dialogue! However, the mastiful soundtrack somehow makes the lack of dialogue obsolete.
The story line covers the period of the American Civil War and is littered with huge amounts of racism; look out for the heroic intgerpretation of the Klu Klux Klan charging to the rescue to the "Ride of the Valcaries" in the latter part of the film.
However, the distastefull racist eliments of the film can be overcome when one looks at the film as a piece of cinematic history. The fact that this film was the first long feature film, the melodramatic style of acting, the use of sound track, editing and camera techniques make it a revolutionary film of it's age and well worth watching 88 years on.
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