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Desc:For the centennial. (2008 link is long dead) A milestone in the history of cimema and evil.
Category:Classic Movies
Tags:racism, silent movies, civil war, Ku Klux Klan, dw griffith
Submitted:John Holmes Motherfucker
Date:05/31/15
Views:775
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Comment count is 14
baleen
Needs Thomas Edison tag.

This film had one of the longest runs in history. It was played through much of the South well into the 1940's.
duck&cover
Plunger heads ride to the rescue.
Killer Joe
Everyone needs to see this movie. It is that important, for lots of reasons.
John Holmes Motherfucker
I saw this in Ken Jacobs' "Race Picture" class in 1990. The class was about 60 percent African American. At Binghamton University (still SUNY Binghamton at the time), there was a tradition of silent movies shown in silence. So we sat there in silence, three fucking hours of racism porn... really GOOD racism porn, ending with a vision of Christ ruling the world. When it was finally over, one of the black kids yelled out "Can we watch it again?"

In her memoir, Lillian Gish wrote that Mr. Griffith would never hate black people because "that would be like hating children." Or words to that effect, I read it a long long time ago.

Again, haven't seen it in 25 years, but as I recall, the racist mythology of Birth of a Nation is all about racial purity. The black characters are never the villains. It's those damned mulattos. Race mixing is evil, and the products of race mixing are evil. So much of the movie is about protecting white women from the constant threat of black dick. That's why the rescued white women are brought to the front of the triumphant Klan parade at the end. Pure white women are seen as a sacred treasure.
baleen
It was really Thomas Edison's vision, not Griffith's alone. He was an apolitical person. You can see from his following films (the ones not produced under Biograph) that racial purity was not chief among his concerns.

G.W. Pabst, another silent film genius with controversial material, is remembered by many as the anti-Semite Nazi who used slave labor on his films. But when you look at the actual content of his films, it's hard to derive that his sole ambition was to make Nazi propaganda films.

Thomas Edison, on the other hand, was a horrible, virulent racist who sent his Pinkerton-esque thugs out to non-approved (read: "ethnic" and Catholic) film production companies to see if they were using his film stock without his cartel's approval. They would actually destroy and confiscate the work of these filmmakers, making Edison tantamount to a cultural gangster. As Edison only controlled the patent to his filmstock and camera equipment East of the Mississippi, filmmakers sought to escape him first in Chicago and then in Hollywood.

So in a very direct way, Thomas Edison's racism gave us black cinema, Jewish Hollywood, and immigrant, working class, urban films.

dairyqueenlatifah
Thomas Edison? Are you actually meaning to say Thomas Dixon, who is the guy who wrote the book/play this was based on?

baleen
No, Thomas Edison, who owned the monopoly that controlled the camera and the film that Griffith used, as well as founding Biograph pictures.

John Holmes Motherfucker
I read that Griffith left Biograph in 1913.

baleen
Yes you're right. I got my wires mixed up there. I am going insane.

dairyqueenlatifah
Huh, so there's a connection between Thomas Edison and Birth of a Nation. News to me.

I've learned that Dr Suess and Thomas Edison were both terrible racists in the same day. Life sucks.

John Holmes Motherfucker
When I tried googling Edison and BOAN together, I get that in 1930, he said that it was his favorite movie.

So yeah, racist as fuck.

Maggot Brain
This sucker is three hours long? Fuck that.
Cena_mark
Thisa puts the old saying "History is written by the victors" on it's head.
Scrotum H. Vainglorious
Everyone in this movie is dead.
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