Archive for January 26th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 1915 187m) DVD1/2

Monument of shame

p  D.W.Griffith, Harry E.Aitken  d  D.W.Griffith  w  D.W.Griffith, Frank E.Woods  novel  “The Klansman” by Thomas Dixon Jnr  ph  Billy Bitzer  ed  James E.Smith  m  Joseph Carl Breil

Henry B.Walthall (Benjamin Cameron), Mae Marsh (Flora Cameron), Miriam Cooper (Margaret Cameron), Lillian Gish (Elsie Stoneman), Robert Harron (Ted Stoneman), Wallace Reid (Jeff), Donald Crisp (U.S.Grant), Elmer Clifton (Phil Stoneman), Joseph Henaberry (Abraham Lincoln), Raoul Walsh (John Wilkes Booth), Josephine Crowell (Mrs Cameron), Violet Wilkey (Flora Cameron as a child), Eugène Pallette (union soldier), Walter Long (Gus), Sam de Grasse (Charles Sumner), George Siegmann (Silas Lynch), Bessie Love (Piedmont girl), Erich Von Stroheim (man falling from roof),

Paragon or pariah?  Masterpiece or monstrosity?  Superlative or shameful?  In truth, probably all six.  D.W.Griffith’s epic adaptation of Dixon’s openly racist novel is everything people say it is and more, worthy of the moral outcry at the time when it was labelled “a flagrant incitement to racial antagonism”.  In its way, as offensive to modern sensibilities as Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it remains the most controversial American film of them all, but the one without which American cinema would not have been the same.  Released on the 50th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the best part of a century on it still has the power to both move and offend.  (more…)

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