The Art of Storytelling: The Birth of a Nation

Essay by Merlin747College, UndergraduateB, April 2004

download word file, 2 pages 3.6

Downloaded 41 times

Griffith's film, "The Birth of a Nation," set the bar for what a narrative storyline should be in cinema, for his time period and today as well. During an era of short, silent films, which often only depicted a single circumstance or shallow plot, the film seemed to be the model for any story portrayed as an epic of events that spanned over many years and covered several events. While at the same time he showed the power of cinema as a propaganda tool and media for personal interest and ideology. However, above all his elaborate storyline can even be seen as a prerequisite for modern films, including Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing."

The most remarkable thing about Griffith's storyline is the amount of issues and span of time he covers in the picture. He starts with the early days of America in which he immediately displays his own views and recollection of slavery.

His depiction is laced with propaganda that mask the true role and quality of life slaves really endured in the early south. He moves on to other events involving slavery, including the Civil War, in which he pits friend against friend as he tries to instill the idea that the Emancipation Proclamation destroyed national kinship among whites. Later Griffith shows the development and role of the Ku Klux Klan, which he depicts as honorable warriors of white interest. The entire storyline as a whole acts as a powerful statement and tool of political propaganda that connects with his personal ideology. The elaborate story allows for the audience to be exposed to a multitude of racist and discriminatory ideas that are shrouded by inaccurate interpretations.

Spike Lee gives the audience a narrative centering on the ongoing struggle of blacks in America, while connecting...