6.3/10
22,396
368 user 97 critic

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

TV-PG | | Drama, History, War | 21 March 1915 (USA)
The Stoneman family finds its friendship with the Camerons affected by the Civil War, both fighting in opposite armies. The development of the war in their lives plays through to Lincoln's assassination and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

Thomas Dixon Jr. (adapted from his novel: "The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan") (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.), Thomas Dixon Jr. (play) (as Thomas F. Dixon Jr.) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
3,938 ( 420)
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry B. Walthall ... Colonel Ben Cameron aka The Little Colonel (as Henry Walthall)
Lillian Gish ... Elsie - Stoneman's Daughter
Mae Marsh ... Flora Cameron - the Pet Sister
Miriam Cooper ... Margaret Cameron - the Elder Sister
Mary Alden ... Lydia Brown - Stoneman's Mulatto Housekeeper
Ralph Lewis ... Hon. Austin Stoneman - Leader of the House
George Siegmann ... Silas Lynch - Mulatto Lieut. Governor (as George Seigmann)
Walter Long ... Gus - A Renegade Negro
Robert Harron ... Tod - Stoneman's Younger Son
Wallace Reid ... Jeff - The Blacksmith (as Wallace Reed)
Joseph Henabery ... Abraham Lincoln (as Jos. Henabery)
Elmer Clifton ... Phil - Stoneman's Elder Son
Josephine Crowell ... Mrs. Cameron
Spottiswoode Aitken ... Dr. Cameron
George Beranger ... Wade Cameron - the Second Son (as J.A. Beringer)
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Storyline

Two brothers, Phil and Ted Stoneman, visit their friends in Piedmont, South Carolina: the family Cameron. This friendship is affected by the Civil War, as the Stonemans and the Camerons must join up opposite armies. The consequences of the War in their lives are shown in connection to major historical events, like the development of the Civil War itself, Lincoln's assassination, and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. Written by Victor Munoz <vmunoz@macul.ciencias.uchile.cl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

100 people have seen it - have you? (Reissue ad). See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Each major character in the film had a particular musical theme, to be played by either an orchestra or a theater organ during theatrical engagements. While D.W. Griffith was choosing musical themes for the characters, he allowed Lillian Gish to choose her own, or Elsie Stoneman's, theme. Later, that same melody was re-titled "The Perfect Song", and was used as a theme song for the radio and television versions of The Amos 'n Andy Show (1951). See more »

Goofs

The position of the window in the small cabin changes. See more »

Quotes

intertitle: [Flora has jumped to her death to escape Gus] For her who had learned the stern lesson of honor we should not grieve that she found sweeter the opal gates of death.
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Crazy Credits

The following was listed in the opening credits: A PLEA FOR THE ART OF THE MOTION PICTURE: We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue - the same liberty that is conceeded to the art of the written word - that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. See more »

Alternate Versions

In both 1921 and 1927, edited versions of the film were released to reflect current political viewpoints. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Suspiria (1977) See more »

User Reviews

Fascinating, expensive movie.
25 October 2002 | by Douglas_HolmesSee all my reviews

This movie had the stockholders quaking when they saw the costs mount. It was the most expensive movie made up to that time, and it shows that silent films really COULD create spectacle on a grand scale.

One of the posters remarked on how ridiculous the Klansmen's hoods looked. Actually, the original "ghost costumes" were all homemade and there was no standardized uniform- some had spikes on the head, horns, painted faces on the masks, etc.

I myself had an ancestor who was a member of the Reconstruction Ku Klux Klan, and they saw themselves as guerilla fighters against an occupying power, not as terrorists. Today we can condemn them. At the time, it must have seemed to them that the war was over, but that the battle lines were still firmly drawn.

This film is a good peek into the attitude of the general public in 1915 about Reconstruction. It became a national obsession, and probably gave impetus to Col. William Joseph Simmons's decision to "resurrect" the Klan in that year.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

None

Release Date:

21 March 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD) | (theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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