Friday, December 30, 2005

The Birth Of A Nation (1915)

Um.. not thatI'm any kind of general or anything, but isn't standing there like that in a firefight kind of a stupid thing to do?

Genre: Silent Drama Romance War Western

Starring: Lillian Gish (Intolerance; Broken Blossoms), Henry B. Walthall (London After Midnight)

Directed By: D.W. Griffith (Way Down East; Orphans Of The Storm)

Overview: One of the most controversial films ever made, this is the story of the Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln and especially the 'Reconciliation' (or how the south dealt with being one nation with Negroes as free men). Based on the pro-Ku Klux Klan book The Clansman.

Acting: The thing I find weird about silent film is all the talking. Don't they know we can't hear them? As for the actual acting, I must say, the silent era has this thing about overhamming it hardcore. I very much enjoyed the role of the 'Little Colonel', who was my favorite, so he bumps it up a notch all by his lonesome.
Rating: 5

Cinematography: There were some great sets and that epic battle scene was terrific. Vignetting and different tinting played a part in boosting the enjoyment, but I could not get over the fact that often scenes went on and on for no reason, mostly just to watch people talk, and no explanatory dialogue most of the time.
Rating: 6

Script: The script was next to non-existent. The fact that 80% of the text up on the screen was simply an explanation of the events about to take place ("The sadness of love lost", or "The assassination of Lincoln") did not help to let us truly know what was going on in the heads of the characters. What's worse is that they kept talking!
Rating: 5

Plot: The whole first half is the onset of the Civil War, and the war itself leading up to the Assassination of President Lincoln. This is really the 'good' part of the movie. The second half of the movie is 'Reconciliation', when the now free Negroes began to be a 'thorn' in the side of whites and the Ku Klux Klan comes and saves the day from the 'power-hungry and harassing' blacks. No it's not convoluted, it's 100% pro-Klan. Hey guess what I think of that? Also, it's just too long. It really could have been cut down for time and interest, easily.
Rating: 4

Mood: I guess I'll throw in "white folk painted like Negroes" under the negative of this category. It was weird trying to figure out who was black, white or mulatto for the longest time. As for the first half of the movie, with all the costumes and settings and that epic battle scene, that was great. They did some authentic reconstructions of actual places too. That's good. Oh right, down 2 points for the blatant racism.
Rating: 5

There is so, so so much wrong with this picture, this whole moving picture in fact...

Overall Rating: 50% (Give Birth A Wide Berth)

Aftertaste:190 minutes. It's an epic yes, and it could certainly have been shortened. Honestly though, it's about the early days of America, and there was a lot of history there. Now looking at the whole Reconciliation bit was like watching a whole other movie... A bad 'ought to be burned' movie. Imagine this: In Los Angeles on February 4, 1915, 20 guys on horses in Full KKK Regalia advertising the film. True story. Astounding isn't it? I preferred the 'Making of' more than the actual movie, because it was so historically enlightening. Sixth down from my 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. Only see this if you need to, like I did.