There’s a reason why epics are so powerful when viewed in their entirety. And 1915’s “The Birth of a Nation” directed by D. W. Griffith is a clear definition of the word epic. Now, when the movie was first released, it sparked a great deal of controversy due to its depiction of black slaves and of the Ku Klux Klan. And the big question surrounding me is this: Is the film still controversial? My response is no. You’ve got to realize the movie deals with a very heavy subject matter, but it shouldn’t be taken the wrong way. We must look at “The Birth of a Nation” and consider for the fact that it’s a motion picture that tells an immense story and that it should not be taken on a negative note.
The plot of this three-hour masterpiece is set during and after the Civil War. There are two families: the Stoneman’s of the North, and the Cameron’s of the South, and these families must send their sons to fight in the war. After the war is over, and the eldest son of each family is brought home safely, everything goes back to normal. But after President Lincoln gets assassinated, tensions start to rise up again. Soon, blacks take control over the nation and become the dominant force that drives the country. It’s up to the KKK (yes they are the good guys, I’ll get to that later) to create peace amongst the United States.
“The Birth of a Nation” is a landmark in film history that needs to be seen. The grand scale and scope of the picture is enormous. If you look at the film today, you will be amazed at how one could achieve the magnitude of a story into a picture. This film is timeless, rich in history, and needs to be shared amongst those who truly appreciate film.
Now there are only a few things that are a bit of a problem with the movie. The film has lost its quality over the years, but it’s still a triumph to watch. It’s not historically accurate, but it doesn’t need to be. As for the controversy, well, let me explain. The movie isn’t racist, and its depiction of the KKK as heroes is a little disappointing as it does turn me off from watching the movie. When looking at the film now, it’s not quite so controversial, but it did leave an impact amongst others. For instance, many cities tried banning the movie upon subsequent re-releases. But the film is still an epic piece of cinematic history.
Overall, “The Birth of a Nation” is a historical epic and should be judged as a movie. If someone has a problem, then that’s fine, he or she is expressing their own opinion of what they saw. We should watch the movie for its historical reference and to see how it could change the way we view films entirely.