The Birth of a Nation
Revolutionary and racist
The Birth of a Nation is a revolutionary film that has many impressive scenes. Its battle scenes are particularly good considering the level of technology available at the time. D.W. Griffith is one of the most influential directors of all time and the film is well put together overall. However, this film is blatantly racist. Its depiction of blacks is one the most despicable things ever seen on film. In fact, it was controversial for its racism even when it was released in 1915! The idea that the KKK were heroes is morally offensive considering their use of systematic terror to achieve their goals. It is no wonder that the real KKK allegedly used the film as a recruiting tool.
Some may say that this film cannot be viewed objectively since it came out at a time when racism was not only common, but the norm in many places. However, racism always has been, despite different popular attitudes at different times, amoral and evil. Any film depicting racism in a positive manner is morally offensive in my opinion. For that reason, I give the film 2.5 stars for its technical achievements. I cannot quite recommend this film for the aforementioned reasons, but its technical achievements are impressive and influential.