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The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | 21 March 1915 (USA)
The Stoneman family finds its friendship with the Camerons affected by the Civil War, both fighting in opposite armies. The development of the war in their lives plays through to Lincoln's assassination and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Writers:

(adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan") (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.), (play) (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Elsie - Stoneman's Daughter
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Col. Ben Cameron (as Henry Walthall)
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Lydia - Stoneman's Mulatto Housekeeper
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Tod - Stoneman's Younger Son
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Jeff - The Blacksmith (as Wallace Reed)
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Abraham Lincoln (as Jos. Henabery)
Elmer Clifton ...
Phil - Stoneman's Elder Son
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...
...
Wade Cameron - Second Son (as J.A. Beringer)
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Storyline

Two brothers, Phil and Ted Stoneman, visit their friends in Piedmont, South Carolina: the family Cameron. This friendship is affected by the Civil War, as the Stonemans and the Camerons must join up opposite armies. The consequences of the War in their lives are shown in connection to major historical events, like the development of the Civil War itself, Lincoln's assassination, and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. Written by Victor Munoz <vmunoz@macul.ciencias.uchile.cl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

D.W. Griffith's immortal masterpiece. (Reissue ad). See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

21 March 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$10,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is widely credited for reviving the long-dead Ku Klux Klan. The organization staged its "rebirth" in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the same year that this movie was released. See more »

Goofs

The position of the window in the small cabin changes. See more »

Quotes

intertitle: If in this work we have conveyed to the mind the ravages of war to the end that war may be held in abhorrence, this effort will not have been in vain.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The following was listed in the opening credits: A PLEA FOR THE ART OF THE MOTION PICTURE: We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue - the same liberty that is conceeded to the art of the written word - that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. See more »

Connections

Featured in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Les signes parmi nous (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Judge it according to its time, not ours
14 July 2004 | by (Salt Lake City) – See all my reviews

This film is sometimes denounced as racist, and it appears to be when judged by a time following the race riots and black civil rights movement.

The black citizens are often shown as illiterate and ignorant. They were, not because of any failing of theirs, but because of laws forbidding their education. The carpetbaggers came to take unfair advantage of a beaten people and a large uneducated population. Their activities caused a great deal of backlash, much of which was unfairly directed at the former slaves. That backlash happened at the time, it was not invented by Griffith. The Klan is shown not as the gang of thugs and bigots most people consider it now, but as an army saving the people from the carpetbaggers. This also must be judged both by the situation at the time, and with the realization that there were real wrongs to be righted (the carpetbaggers again).

Now that a DVD with essentially the whole movie is available, watch it again, trying to put yourself in the place of someone who has heard stories of the civil war (the Southern viewpoint) and reconstruction all your life, and who probably had a father or uncle(s) who fought for the Confederacy. It looks a lot different that way.


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