Since its inception more than a century ago, cinematography has grown to be widely recognized worldwide as one of the most potent and influential vehicles of artistic transmission of cultural and symbolic messages. However, with passing time the art of film is obtaining another crucial function, namely that of preservation of such messages in their original visual and contextual form, which has turned film as such into a kind of time machine…
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All this helps better understand why film is such a valuable source which, if properly analyzed, can uncover a lot of information about the historical period when it was created.
Within the majority of modern western cultures there are films that are traditionally perceived as defining national cinematographies. In the United States there can be found many such exemplary films as well. But few other movies can rival such acknowledged masterpieces as "The Birth of a Nation", filmed by D. W. Griffith and premiered in 1915, and "Gone With the Wind", produced by 1939 by cooperative effort of David O. Selznick and Victor Fleming. Being separated by almost a quarter of century, an immensely long period for the explosively advancing genre of cinematography, both of those films in their respective period of time boldly set new standards for film making that would define the future cinematographic approaches. But aside from their purely artistic and professional merits, it is not less important to mention that "The Birth of a Nation" and "Gone With the Wind" fully comply with our observation of the preservative function of film. Indeed, what makes these films invaluable is their record of controversial views on the acute racial problems that emerged during the post-Civil War emancipation of former black American slaves, and which were also urgent in the days of the films production. With these observations in mind, let us investigate how black Americans are portrayed in the film "The Birth of a Nation", how does the film represent the Ku Klux Klan and its role in the Southern life, and what do "The Birth of a Nation" and its reception reveal about white Americans attitudes toward blacks in the early twentieth century. Also, let us contrast such observations with "Gone with the Wind" with its own interpretation of the post-Civil War emancipation.
Since the dawn of cinema, the American Civil War has been the main theme for numerous directors, but one of the most prominent figures in the history of cinematography in its preoccupation with the topic of the Civil War was D. W. Griffith. Films of Griffith, whose father was a former Confederate Colonel, were definitely influenced by the late nineteenth-century Southern Romance novelists with their stories of aristocratic owners of plantations, Southern beauties, and faithful slaves (Wagenknecht 1975, pp. 28-29). During his celebrated career, Griffith produced thirteen silent films that touched the topic of the Civil War. Among these, "The Birth of a Nation", premiered in 1915, is most well-known, largely due to its debatable and openly racist stance. The film is based on the play "The Clansman" of Thomas Dixon, which extols the Ku Klux Klan as the redeemer of Aryan race endangered after the period of the Reconstruction. However, despite its problematic representation of racial issues, this film is nevertheless the landmark American masterpiece not only among the Civil War films, but in the whole field of cinematography, so that everyone who studies the history of film must study "The Birth of a N
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(“History 20th century america Movie Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 4000 words”, n.d.)
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(History 20th Century America Movie Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 4000 Words)
“History 20th Century America Movie Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 4000 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1527589-history-20th-century-america.
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