The film, Birth of a Nation (1915) is a silent film by director D.W. Griffith who pioneered film techniques and changed the way a film’s narrative told its story. Because of this, and the inclusion of some of the most famous stars of the time, the movie had a huge commercial success and was a popular film.
However, the movie is racist and unapologetic about its attitudes, which are those of a white Southerner, raised in the 19th century, unable to see African-Americans as fellow beings of worth and rights.
Another part of Birth of a Nation’s legacy is that it was successfully used as a recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan which had a huge resurgence due in large part because of this film.
After Watching the film and reading the articles associated with the film Week Five’s Content, answer the question below and reflect on the film.
While the film is uncomfortable at best to watch in 21st Century America, it has an important place in the history of racism and race issues.
- What do you think are the two most important issues for you to take away from what you have learned? Why?
- What would be your top two talking points about this film if you were to discuss it with friends or family members? Why?
- What recent films, TV shows, music, pieces of art address some of the same issues you talked about in questions 1 & 2? How do we/should we respond to them?