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Robert Lang's introduction to this volume explores in fascinating detail the warped view of history that this great film presents. Griffith, a Southerner, was intent on resurrecting, idealizing, and justifying the South. In The Birth of a Nation, it is racism that unites the white North and South; the protection or abolition of slavery is not the divisive issue. In a powerful synthesis of spectacle and narrative, Griffith seeks to give the Southern cause a sense of glamour and high purpose. Lang considers the film as a historical melodrama, and by examining Griffith's "historiography as ideological practice," he traces the way in which the bloody, traumatic reality of the Civil War and Reconstruction becomes melodramatic myth.
This unparalleled guide to The Birth of a Nation offers a shot-by-shot continuity script; a biographical sketch of the director; a sampling of contemporary reviews; a series of essays by distinguished critics including James Chandler, Michael Rogin, Janet Staiger, and Mimi White; and a filmography and bibliography.
Robert Lang is an assistant professor of English and film studies at the University of Hartford.
|The Birth of a Nation: History, Ideology, Narrative Form||3|
|D.W. Griffith: A Biographical Sketch||25|
|The Birth of a Nation|
|Credits and Cast||39|
|The Continuity Script||43|
|Capitalizing Race Hatred||164|
|Reply to the New York Globe||166|
|Reply to the New York Globe||168|
|The Moving Picture World||176|
|The Atlanta Journal||179|
|The Atlanta Constitution||183|
|The Birth of a Nation: Reconsidering Its Reception||195|
|The Birth of a Nation: History as Pretext||214|
|The Historical Novel Goes to Hollywood: Scott, Griffith, and Film Epic Today||225|
|"The Sword Became a Flashing Vision": D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation||250|
|Filmography and Bibliography|
|Griffith Filmography, 1908-1931||297|