D.W. Griffith - The Birth of a Nation (1915), 1/10

D.W. Griffith’s advancements in cinematography are completely overshadowed by the ridiculous content of this film, and they should be. The film is propaganda, of course, but it attempts to tell a story. This story is pathetically shortsighted and narrow, suitably sourced from Thomas Dixon Jr.’s The Clansman. The film is now a launching point for a discussion of historical importance against technical advancement and integration, an argument that quickly becomes trivial when you ask a simple question: is this film enjoyable? For anyone who answers yes after watching The Birth of a Nation they would be unequivocally psychotic considering modern enlightenment, cultural evolution, contemporary technical advancements, and basic knowledge of story structures. Not to mention that the film itself overstays its welcome within the first few minutes, then persists for three hours of what amounts to silent torture. It is historically significant for its advancements in filmmaking and now will be significant for its importance as an artifact of divisiveness, creating a rift between those focused on production over meaningful artistic expression. Practically nothing in the film can be called artistically meaningful without relying on the film as a precedent for future projects. If The Birth of a Nation was not the first film to incorporate such techniques would Griffith have simply brought these aspects of the process into a later project? While the answer doesn’t matter as a hypothetical, the question reframes the film as simply an artifact and not a work of art. For that reason, it is an abysmal relic of a tragic time in history when men were blinded by shortsightedness and a general lack of perspective or empathy. The influence of the film works further to its detriment, as it was an inspiration for hate and murder. The story is juvenile, the acting poor, the techniques novel but in their infancy, and the screenplay duals as laughably poor and simultaneously disgusting. Not worth even a fraction of its comically lengthy run time.