"Birth of a Nation" Analysis

Essay by jagerbombwvuUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2006

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In the film "Birth of a Nation" (Griffith, 1914) all of the African Americans are seen as villains, while all whites are viewed upon as heroes. The African Americans danced and performed for their masters. The film tells a story about the old south and the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan. Once a law was passed that made whites salute black officers on the streets, and interracial marriages between blacks and whites made the whites seem to be a helpless minority. This is when a group of men covered in sheets and white hoods fought the blacks. When the hooded white men beat the blacks they were looked at as the defenders of the white women, honor, and glory. These men were praised when they restored order and their white supremacy. This is where the title "Birth of a Nation" comes from along with the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

The story opens with a prologue depicting the introduction of slavery into America in the 17th century, with a prediction that it will bring nothing but trouble for the future. The slaves are given a two hour break for dinner, during their work day which goes from dusk till dawn. Outside the slave quarters, the dominant white masters find themselves being entertained by the dancing performance of their slaves and family servants.

Griffith takes every opportunity to present the confederate forces as heroic underdogs. The South is based on honor and aristocracy, every defeat they suffer, the South redeem themselves by their courage and grace. But as the southern army loses battles a form of excuses are made to defend their honor. A perfect example is when Ben Cameron's troops are defeated only because they haven't eaten in several days and the...