Often considered the first epic feature film, The Birth of a Nation was released in 1915 and is based on The Clansman by Thomas Dixon.
It’s not worth watching. No matter what film school recommends it to you, it’s 3 hours of racist propaganda which will have you tearing your hair out long before the racism actually kicks in.
In case the title of the source didn’t make it clear to you, this film is centered around the Ku Klux Klan and its actions after the civil war.
If the film was objective and portrayed everyone in an equal light then I’d have no problem with the KKK’s involvement, I have zero qualms with films based on any and all subjects, the subject does not bother me as long as it is treated with at least a small sense of objective fairness. What does bother me is that the KKK are portrayed as heroes and the African-Americans are played by Caucasians wearing blackface.
Racism aside, The Birth of a Nation is already unbearable to watch. An overuse of title cards, a barrage of bland shots, a soundtrack to make you insane and the racism. Oh wait, I said I’d put that aside… but it keeps coming back in my mind…
I was originally going to reluctantly give this film half a star as I thought it was the first feature film (despite how much I despise it). But I’ve just discovered that the first feature film was actually The Story of the Kelly Gang, an Australian drama film depicting famed criminal Ned Kelly. That was enough to take The Birth of a Nation‘s half-star away from it.
0.5 / 5 million title cards
What did you think of The Birth of a Nation?
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