Birth Of The Nation Essay

He became Biograph's principal director, and in the next five years he made over 480 short, very popular films.In this time, because of the success of his work, Griffith gained increasing control over the major aspects of film production at Biograph, from writing, casting, and editing to promotion.Even with United Artists he was assigned films to make and was overseen by producers wary of his profligate tendencies.

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All of these innovations were adopted by other filmmakers and came to be hallmarks of the Hollywood style.

Critics argue, however, that Griffith's own style should not be thought of as synonymous with the "classic realist text" of Hollywood, that his films characteristically employ devices that distance the viewer and prevent the kind of identification and "suspension of disbelief" thought typical of Hollywood.

Exemplified in his epic silent movies The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), his techniques were copied and refined by the majority of filmmakers in the United States and Europe, and were closely studied by Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and other directors in pre- and post-revolutionary Russia.

Most critics note, however, that as a storyteller Griffith was prone to bombastic thematic pretension, sentimentality, and was capable of only pedestrian insight.

Moreover, The Birth of a Nation, which is often considered the apotheosis of his technical achievement, can no longer be shown outside of academic settings because it is blatantly racist, depicting blacks as either buffoons or savages and the Ku Klux Klan as heroes.

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For these reasons, modern critical attention tends to focus on two areas of his career: the early, formative period from 1908 through 1913 when he made over 480 short films for the Biograph Company; and the later phase that included important yet less well-known works such as Broken Blossoms (1919), Way Down East (1920), and Isn't Life Wonderful (1924).In 1913, when the owners of Biograph rejected his demands to make longer, more elaborate, and thus more expensive films, Griffith left the company, taking with him his cameraman, G. "Billy" Bitzer, and several of his favorite actors, including Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Robert Harron, and Henry B. Relocated in Southern California, Griffith made several films for the Reliance-Majestic company and raised money for The Birth of a Nation.This film generated significant controversy upon its release—the protests of a number of black groups and prominent critics impelled Griffith to write a pamphlet, The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in America (1915), defending himself and the movie against charges of racism.Biographical Information Griffith was born in Oldham County, Kentucky, to parents whose families had been in the United States since the revolutionary period.His father, Jacob, was a doctor who participated in the California Gold Rush, was a member of the Kentucky legislature, and, prior to the Civil War—in which he served as an officer in the Confederate cavalry—had been a prosperous slave owner with a large plantation.Griffith, who never finished high school because of his obligation to help support the family, had decided early in life to be a writer; his temperament and personality, however, led him to pursue the more social and flamboyant art of stage acting.He joined a travelling theatrical company in 1895, and for the following ten years made a meager living acting and holding odd jobs. and Baltimore of a play he wrote called A Fool and a Girl (1907), Griffith moved to New York City to resume acting.Nonetheless, The Birth of a Nation was widely hailed as "the greatest film ever made." Its success enabled Griffith to make the grandly elaborate Intolerance, a two-and-a-half hour film presenting four intertwined historical dramas and employing massive, spectacular sets and hundreds of extras.Although it drew big crowds upon its release and soon after, audiences quickly dwindled as word spread that its four-part structure was confusing.He was then hired by the Biograph Company as a writer and actor.He appeared in at least twenty films before June, 1908, when he was given the opportunity to direct a film, The Adventures of Dollie.

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