UC Berkeley Library

Birth of a Nation (1915)

Directed by D.W. Griffith. Cast: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Mary Alden, Ralph Lewis, George Seigmann, Walter Long. Adapted from Thomas Dixon's novel, The Clansman. A Civil War spectacular, Portraying "life in the South" during and after the Civil War as revealed in a story depicting the war itself, the conflict between the defeated Southerners and emancipated renegade Negroes, the despoiling of the South during the carpetbagger period, and the revival of the Southern white man's honor through the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan.124 min. (187 min.), 999:1686 213 min.)
Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

"Griffith's controversial and extremely influential silent film classic caused riots in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. The NAACP organized protests at the various premieres of the film around the country. In addition, The Birth of a Nation was outright banned in several cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh and Kansas City due to its racist themes. [Alternative Reel] "Birth of a nation was banned more moften than any other film in motion picture history. Its right to be screened is known to have been challenged in well over 100 incidents in and out of court, as recently as 1980; in 60 instances the picture was completely banned or partially censored."

See also:
Butters, Gerald R., Jr. Banned in Kansas : motion picture censorship, 1915-1966 Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c2007. Print: Main (Gardner) Stacks PN1995.63.K36 B87 2007)

Butters, Gerald R., Jr. "'The Birth of a Nation' and the Kansas Board of Review Of Motion Pictures: A Censorship Struggle." Kansas History 1991 14(1): 2-14 13p. Couvares, Francis G. "The good censor: race, sex, and censorship in the early cinema. Yale Journal of Criticism, 1994, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p233-251, 19p Full-text of this article / review is available:UC users only

McEwan, Paul. "Lawyers, Bibliographies, and the Klan: Griffith's resources in the censorship battle over The Birth of a Nation in Ohio." Film History; 2008, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p357-366, 10p Full-text of this article / review is available:UC users only

Patton, Cindy. "White racism/black signs: censorship and images of race relations." Journal of Communication; 1995, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p65-77, 13p Full-text of this article / review is available:UC users only

Patton, Cindy. "Censorship and the Problem Films." In: Cinematic identity : anatomy of a problem film Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c2007; print: MAIN: PN1995.9.S62 P38 2007)

View this video online (UC Berkeley users only)

Awards & Honors
NationalFilm Registry Selection

Date: