D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation
7%
off

D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation : A History of 'The Most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time'

3.58 (31 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?

Description

In this deeply researched and vividly written volume, Melvyn Stokes illuminates the origins, production, reception and continuing history of this ground-breaking, aesthetically brilliant, and yet highly controversial movie. By going back to the original archives, particularly the NAACP and D. W. Griffith Papers, Stokes explodes many of the myths surrounding The Birth of a Nation (1915). Yet the story that remains is fascinating: the longest American film of its time, Griffith's film incorporated many new features, including the first full musical score compiled for an American film. It was distributed and advertised by pioneering methods that would quickly become standard. Through the high prices charged for admission and the fact that it was shown, at first, only in "live" theaters with orchestral accompaniment, Birth played a major role in reconfiguring the American movie audience by attracting more middle-class patrons. But if the film was a milestone in the history of cinema, it was also undeniably racist. Stokes shows that the darker side of this classic movie has its origins in the racist ideas of Thomas Dixon, Jr. and Griffith's own Kentuckian background and earlier film career. The book reveals how, as the years went by, the campaign against the film became increasingly successful. In the 1920s, for example, the NAACP exploited the fact that the new Ku Klux Klan, which used Griffith's film as a recruiting and retention tool, was not just anti-black, but also anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish, as a way to mobilize new allies in opposition to the film. This crisply written book sheds light on both the film's racism and the aesthetic brilliance of Griffith's filmmaking. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the cinema.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 33.02mm | 657.71g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous halftones
  • 0195336798
  • 9780195336795
  • 1,169,587

Review quote

...a fine book...Stokes book is well and clearly written. * Stephen Bottomore, Early Popular Visual Culture * [an] informative book...Stokes has done an invaluable job researching The Birth of a Nation's back story and reception. * J. Hoberman, London Review of Books *show more

About Melvyn Stokes

Melvyn Stokes teaches American history and American film history at University College London. He has also been a visiting fellow at Princeton, a visiting Fulbright Professor at Mount Holyoke College and a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He has edited or co-edited nine books, including four for the British Film Institute.show more

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION ; 1. Premiere in Los Angeles ; 2. Thomas Dixon, Jr ; 3. David Wark Griffith ; 4. Making The Birth of a Nation ; 5. Transforming the American Movie Audience ; 6. Fighting a Vicious Film ; 7. Griffiths View of History ; 8. After Birth ; 9. Conclusion ; BIBLIOGRAPHYshow more

Rating details

31 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 16% (5)
4 39% (12)
3 35% (11)
2 6% (2)
1 3% (1)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X