The Birth of a Nation (Deluxe 3-Disc Edition) (DVD)
Directed by D. W. Griffith
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Henry B. Walthall
Almost a century after its release, The Birth of a Nation remains one of the most controversial films ever made... a landmark achievement of filmmaking that undeniably demonstrates the deep roots of America's racist history. The film tells 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 viciously bigoted portrayal of African Americans. Upon its release, it was the biggest feature-length blockbuster yet to be produced in the United States, and the first to be shown in the White House. After seeing the film, President Woodrow Wilson, who was known for being extremely racist even by the standards of his time, declared it was "like writing history with lightning!" In cities and states across the country, the film energized the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which fought to have the film banned, or at least the most gruesome scenes censored. The film also inspired African Americans to move into filmmaking as a way to offer alternative images and stories, as demonstrated in our Pioneers of African-American Cinema box set.
This film contains racism and/or the mistreatment of people or cultures. Such depictions, in any era, are inexcusable. The film is being presented in its original form to bear witness to the history of racism in cinema, and to encourage a dialogue about how a future cinema can become more inclusive.
DVD Extras Include:
- The Birth of a Nation, newly mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements
- Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (2011), in 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1
- Spoken introductions by D.W. Griffith and Walter Huston (including the newly rediscovered intermission sequence)
- The Birth of a Nation, restored by David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates in 1993
- Orchestral score adapted in 1993 from the original score by Joseph Carl Breil, in 2.0 Stereo
- “The Making of The Birth of a Nation” (24 min.) Produced by David Shepard; Compiled and written by Russell Merritt
- Civil War shorts directed by D.W. Griffith: (Music by Jon C. Mirsalis unless indicated)
· In the Border States (1910, 16 min.)
· The House With Closed Shutters (1910, 17 min.)
· The Fugitive (1910, 17 min.)
· His Trust (1910, 14 min.)
Courtesy of David Shepard; Musical setting compiled and arranged by Robert Israel; Performed by the Biograph Quartet
· His Trust Fulfilled (1910, 11 min.)
· Swords and Hearts (1911, 16 min.)
· The Battle (1911, 17 min.)
- “New York vs. The Birth of a Nation”, Archival documents pertaining to the censorship battles over the film’s 1922 re-release
- Excerpts of souvenir program books
"One of the greatest American movies of all time!" - American Film Institute
"The Birth of a Nation remains an important and unforgettable historical document and I have never seen it look or sound better. It remains an impressive and draining experience - a journey that demands a position in any cinephile library. Blu-ray is recommended! - DVD Beaver
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