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The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Not Rated | | 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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4,028 ( 535)
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:

D.W. Griffith's immortal masterpiece. (Reissue ad). See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| | (video) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because of the lax accounting methods of its distributors, it was difficult to determine how much the film actually made at the box office. As a result, those connected with its making ludicrously exaggerated its box office take (Lillian Gish wrote in her autobiography that it made over $100 million). Its actual take is now estimated to be about $10 million, still a fantastic sum for its time. See more »

Goofs

The position and condition of the flag on the left-hand side of Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater varies between shots. In the first long shot after Elsie points out Booth, it is hanging downwards from the middle, whereas in the shots immediately before and after, it is shown draped across the front of the left-hand railing. Similarly, after Booth shoots Lincoln and jumps from the box, the flag falls to the left-hand side of the box and an audience member is later shown pulling it down twice. See more »

Quotes

intertitle: Excerpts from Woodrow Wilson's "History of the American People";... Adventurers swarmed out of the North, as much enemies of the one race as of the other, to cozen, beguile, and use the negroes.... In the villages the negroes were the office holders, men who knew none of the uses of authority, except its insolences.
See more »

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 1931 a shorter version with an orchestral track was released. The reissue version was reedited and shorted under Griffith's supervision, and also included sound effects. Also filmed and added to this version was a prologue featuring Griffith in conversation with actor Walter Huston, introducing the film. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Nostalgia Chick: Song of the South (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

show it in my American History classes
21 April 1999 | by Larry-4See all my reviews

I am a Ph.D. candidate in American History. I show BOAN (as does most American history professors) to my undergrads. Not only is it an accurate portrait of the propaganda being written in the 1870s, but it is a primary source document on how people in the 1870s and 1910s saw African Americans. Anyone wonder why the Civil Rights movement happened, or why lynchings happened, or why ML King, Jr.was assassinated? Well, watch BOAN and you'll get an insight into that most American of institutions, racism. Why is there racial hatred today, because of the rhetoric of hate by the people who made BOAN and the people who are depicted in it. If they affect you still, shouldn't know what they said? Especially if you find it abhorrent, watch it. It is also a good reminder of how distorted history can be made to look legitimate on celluloid.


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