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The Birth Of A Nation: Masters of Cinema (Blu-ray)

Released on 07 May 2013

Featuring: Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh & Henry B. Walthall

Format: Blu-ray | Rating: 15 years & over

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One of the most artistically significant and controversial motion pictures ever made, D. W. Griffith's silent epic The Birth of a Nation was a massive commercial success at the time of its release, owing to its dynamic storytelling and its breakthrough developments in cinema language that have become common traits of practically every film that has since followed. However, the picture's legacy is one that continues to elicit outrage over its vulgar depictions of African-Americans and its deceptive historiography of the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Birth of a Nation begins depicting the amiable relationship between two families, Northern and Southern, and the way in which the impending Civil War intensifies the conflict of their worldviews. Following the end of the war and the assassination of President Lincoln, a lawless chaos courses throughout the Reconstruction South, and the Ku Klux Klan is formed to take on a rising black militia and impose a vengeful vigilante justice across their land and "birthright".

It's a film that's deeply divisive even to the senses of a single viewer: images of painterly beauty in composition and tonal quality often exhibit a contemptuous, inflammatory coarseness with regard to subject matter; just as frequently, long tracts evince an innocent, terrifically lyrical grandeur. Griffith would attempt to make amends for the moral schism of this schizophrenic epic in his next film, Intolerance, but The Birth of a Nation cannot - and should not - remain unseen, or undiscussed: it is a great, and terrible, masterpiece. The Masters of Cinema Series releases Griffith's three-hour epic, including a series of the director's Civil War shorts, for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK.
  • New 1080p presentation (on the Blu-ray) of the film from archival 35mm elements, in its original aspect ratio
  • Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra in 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Short archival introductions to the film by D. W. Griffith and Walter Huston
  • Newly rediscovered original intermission sequence and 1930 re-release title sequence
  • Seven Civil War shorts directed by Griffith: In the Border States (1910)
  • The House with Closed Shutters (1910)
  • The Fugitive (1910)
  • His Trust (1910)
  • His Trust Fulfilled (1910)
  • Swords and Hearts (1911)
  • and The Battle (1911).
  • A lengthy booklet with writing about the film, rare archival imagery, and more.
  • More details to follow!

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ActorsLillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall & Miriam Cooper
DirectorD.W. Griffith
Certificate15 years and over
Year1915
Screen1.37:1
LanguagesEnglish - DTS-HD Master Audio (5.1)
Duration3 hours and 10 minutes (approx)