Reviewed by: Shannon Hammell
Starring: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall | Produced and Directed by: D. W. Griffith | Written by: D. W. Griffith, Frank E. Woods and Thomas F. Dixon Jr., based on Dixon’s novels “The Clansman” and “The Leopard’s Spots” | Distributor: Joseph Brenner Associates
This is a film that every American must see. It is an example of America’s ugly history glamorized in the worst way imaginable. D. W. Griffith’s film “Birth of a Nation” strips away the truth about American Reconstruction after the Civil War. There aren’t any sex scenes in the film (it was made in 1915, before the MPAA) and no profanity, but make note of the violence and the extreme racial stereotypes that might make this film inappropriate for younger viewers.
The film starts out with two families visiting each other before the American Civil War; one family from the North and one from the South. The Northern family visiting their Southern friends get an eyeful of their mansion, plantation fields, and their wealth in general.
Civil War breaks out and everyone is sent to war, dividing families and loved ones. After the war and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, America begins the long journey of Reconstruction. “Carpetbaggers” and “scalawags” are depicted in usual, stereotypical fashion. Racial tension grows between whites and blacks. Also note that there are no black actors in this film. Everyone portraying a black character has been “painted over.”
I recommend this film to be watched not for entertainment value but for educational purposes (I had to watch this film for my Civil War history class). Do not expect to be entertained by this film since it is filled with racist-motivated violence. The Bible clearly states that we are made in the image of God. God does not make mistakes, nor does He judge us based upon our skin color. Racism is a mockery of God and His creation.
This film has no Christian material in it. Racism, an anti-Christian element, is glorified. Racial violence is glorified. The Ku Klux Klan are considered heroes in this film. Black men are portrayed as wanting to rape white women. Slaves are depicted as happy-go-lucky people who dance and sing all day. Every myth about American Reconstruction is in this movie in gory detail.
My age recommendation is for ages 13 and up, depending upon maturity. Before you view this movie, say a prayer that God will use this film to teach you about the ungodliness of racism and stereotypes.