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The Birth of a Nation
D W Griffith's highly controversial, yet extremely significant American silent epic about the American Civil War and its aftermath.
Director: D.W. Griffith
The highly controversial, yet extremely significant American silent epic was at the time the crowning achievement of director D W Griffith, the pioneer credited with creating and perfecting cinematic devices such as the flash-back, the iris shot, the mask and cross-cutting.
The Birth of a Nation covers a period of several years and is centered on the relationship of two families during The Civil War and Reconstruction era. Dividing friends and destroying families, The Civil War is minor in its disruption compared to the anarchy which follows in the post-war South. The film was released to great commercial success, being one of the highest grossing films of the Silent era, but was widely-debated and often condemned due to its portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan as a heroic force. The film is attributed to launching the career of Lillian Gish, who worked closely with Griffith for many years, and who was also known as 'The First Lady of American Cinema'.