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View Diary: I Saw "Lincoln" And Wept (297 comments)

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  •  Nice comment, thanks. (9+ / 0-)

    I looked up "Birth of a Nation" on IMDB and saw that Raoul Walsh, famed director of "White Heat" and "High Sierra" had an uncredited role as John Wilkes Booth!

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:33:48 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Yes he did, and many movie books ID him (8+ / 0-)

      It's amazing whom you can find hanging around the sets in old silent movies - none other than Leon Trotsky racked up some screen appearances circa the early 1910's when he was scrounging work in New York City.

      Incidentally, the Thaddeus Stevens character in "Birth of a Nation" was not depicted as a villain per se, but as tragically misguided. The name he went under was "Austin Stoneman", and he was the father of the heroine (played, of course, by Lillian Gish, like practically all Griffith heroines). The actual villains were, I'm sorry to say, white actors in blackface.

      I don't think Griffith realized that he was touching off a powder keg - not even he had fully understood the power of the new medium he was playing with. (And no, he wasn't consciously racist, as I have pointed out more than once before, but he was heavily blinkered and his interpretations heavily filtered by his being raised in the post-Reconstruction South - to an extent he wasn't even capable of recognizing.)

      It's interesting to note that in his subsequent career, Griffith more than once went out of his way to be socially responsible and scrupulously fair - starting with his very next film, Intolerance.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 02:22:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've Done A Couple Diaries On "Birth Of A Nation" (6+ / 0-)

        The racist themes of whites being pushed away from the polls etc etc etc etc etc etc etc are still the staple of Fox news.

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 03:25:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ...and apparently Griffith *toned down* a lot of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          swampyankee, Upper West

          the outrageousness of his source material (a Klan-glorifying novel, The Clansman, by one Thomas Dixon, Jr). Seems he had some sense of proportion.

          What Griffith and Dixon had in common was that they were among "the dispossessed" - white male Southerners whose family fortunes had taken an abrupt turn downward as a direct result of the Civil War and the punitive measures imposed by Reconstruction. (That such measures were to some extent justified and on the whole a better idea than mass executions, didn't matter to either man.)

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:08:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've read it.Horrible book.n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Upper West

            Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

            by swampyankee on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:19:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You've got a stronger stomach than I (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              swampyankee, Upper West

              The synopses available online were way more than enough for me.

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:20:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  well,I had a stiff drink during and after. It was (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Upper West

                in a box of books I got for a quarter.There was an editorial
                from a local paper pasted in the back about how very wrong
                showing 'Birth Of A Nation' at the White House was.It accused
                D.W.Griffith of historical revisionism-I can't remember much
                more then that-been years since I read it.
                 I read out of morbid curiousity,and was horrified.
                Went ahead and saw the movie though.

                Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

                by swampyankee on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:44:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  OTOH I actually did sit thru "Birth of a Nation" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              swampyankee, Upper West

              Not sure I could do it again, though.

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:22:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The First Half Of TBOAN Was A Cinematic Landmark (4+ / 0-)

                The first half of the movie was about the history of the Civil War, with unprecedented sweep and grandeur. The editing seemed completely natural and modern.

                Griffith also did things nobody had ever thought of, like putting the camera on a truck and filming galloping horse.

                Then there was intermission and seemingly a completely different and racist  movie about Reconstruction started, and it was much more of the familiar theatrical format of the silent movies.

                There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

                by bernardpliers on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:38:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is indeed a brilliantly filmed picture (4+ / 0-)

                  The best silent films seem much more contemporary than films from the 30s or 40s because before the advent of sound cameras were much more lightweight and mobile. The introduction of sound technology made the cameras big and clunky, and you started seeing much more rigid and stagey movies.

                  •  Not only that, the early mics were big and clunky (0+ / 0-)

                    and required fairly direct addressing. (Check out Singin' In the Rain for a humorous look at some early dodges for dealing with the things.) Eventually somebody figured out how to hang a mic from a boom and move it around above the set, which helped a lot.

                    If it's
                    Not your body,
                    Then it's
                    Not your choice
                    And it's
                    None of your damn business!

                    by TheOtherMaven on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:40:51 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  The film depicts Stoneman as being a lustful (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        swampyankee, Upper West

        dupe of his evil mulatto housekeeper/mistress, the film's version of Lydia Hamilton Smith (cleverly named "Lydia Brown").

        The contrast between the two films' depictions of them and the idea of them as a couple is quite amusing, really.

    •  "Birth of a Nation" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      swampyankee, Upper West, BlackSheep1

      is free online at archive.org for those like me who haven't seen it.

      Thanks for the reference and the fine diary, Upper West!

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 03:51:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  An antidote to Birth of a Nation and the Clansman (0+ / 0-)

      is A Fool's Errand by Albion Tourgee, who actually was a "carpetbagger" (in the non-pejorative sense of the word).

      Very exciting and enriches the period.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:48:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  there's really NO non-pejorative sense of (0+ / 0-)

        "carpetbagger," and the definitive example of why is the Bush family, fils et pere, carpetbagging their ways into The People's House.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 09:14:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But (0+ / 0-)

          in the 1860's and '70s, there were Northerners who went south to the occupied states with very good intentions of actual reconstruction.  I don't remember for sure, but even in the book they may not have minded the term "carpetbagger."

          the exclusively pejorative use of the term came with the racist history of reconstruction that dominated schools until the 1960's.

          The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

          by Upper West on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:02:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Carpetbagger: (0+ / 0-)

            Check out what it means in the UK.
            I think even the neoabolitionists would admit the Bush Crime Family came to Texas for personal gain, not for the good of the country or the state.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:24:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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