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D W Griffiths epic tale told in Birth of a Nation was a shocking one The movie set box office records taking in over eighteen million dollars When it was released it was one of the longest films ever made over three hours in length Some film scholars say that it is the most important film ever released But despite all of these records and achievements the story and the way that blacks of the South were depicted haunted blacks for decades to come Showing the black man as a sexual predator to white females was inviting the South commence with wide-scale lynchings of innocent black men If a black man looked the wrong way at a white woman then he could be lynched without a thought of justice This film advanced the suspicion and contributed to the practice of Jim Crow in the South Most shockingly I discovered that the film is still used by the Ku Klux Klan today for recruitment purposes The portrayal of the KKK in Birth of a Nation was one of heroes instead of marauding racists This appealed to white Americans views of the mythic South and helped to boost membership in the KKK Griffith later released a version of the movie without the KKK but the damage had already been done Of course the NAACP attacked the film and it was met with picketing upon its release The raising of the KKK as heroes while portraying black men as sexual predators was sickening and it is amazing to me that the movie is praised as it is Though the portrayal of both blacks and the KKK were extremely off track the movie itself was an amazing work of cinema for its time This was probably the first movie to use hundreds of extra in a battle scene These scenes were well crafted by the filmmaker and while not to the perfection of
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