Birth Of The Nation Essay

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The film was a financial failure and marked the beginning of a gradual decline in Griffith's ability to dictate the terms of his career.

In 1919, Griffith, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin formed United Artists, a production company designed to give them the freedom they felt they were losing in the face of the growing, consolidating, and realigning film industry.

Griffith, who never finished high school because of his obligation to help support the family, had decided early in life to be a writer; his temperament and personality, however, led him to pursue the more social and flamboyant art of stage acting.

He joined a travelling theatrical company in 1895, and for the following ten years made a meager living acting and holding odd jobs. and Baltimore of a play he wrote called A Fool and a Girl (1907), Griffith moved to New York City to resume acting.

Over the course of his next 480 or so films, Griffith experimented with ways in which to heighten the viewer's identification with the characters' experiences and states of mind.

Among the innovations evident in his Biograph films are: 1) the increased and refined use of point-of-view shots, in which the viewer sees what the character sees; an early example of this occurs in Griffith's second film, The Redman and the Child (1908), when an Indian witnesses a murder through a telescope; 2) an increasingly restrained and naturalistic style of acting, one that eschewed the broad gestures of the nineteenth-century "histrionic" style; among the many films in which this new style dominates, The New York Hat (1912) is often cited because the subtle performances of Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore contrast strikingly with the more demonstrative and obviously stylized actions of the rest of the cast; and 3) the use of what has been called "switchback" or "parallel" editing, by means of which two or more events taking place in different locations are presented as occurring simultaneously; Griffith—and most filmmakers after him—used this technique in a variety of ways: from increasing the suspense in a "last minute rescue" sequence, as in The Lonely Villa (1909) when a man must race home to prevent criminals from attacking his wife and daughters; to the breaking down of individual scenes into numerous closer and more detailed shots, a technique that creates a "synthetic" space, one that exists as a unified whole only in the viewer's imagination.Nonetheless, The Birth of a Nation was widely hailed as "the greatest film ever made." Its success enabled Griffith to make the grandly elaborate Intolerance, a two-and-a-half hour film presenting four intertwined historical dramas and employing massive, spectacular sets and hundreds of extras.Although it drew big crowds upon its release and soon after, audiences quickly dwindled as word spread that its four-part structure was confusing.In a series of linked vignettes, each consisting of one shot, the film presents the story of a little girl who is kidnapped by an evil gypsy; when the girl's father searches for her at the gypsy camp, she is spirited away in a barrel; the barrel eventually falls into a river and Dollie is carried back to her home.In plot and premise, The Adventures of Dollie is typical of many of Griffith's subsequent Biograph films: a tranquil, bourgeois domestic situation is upset; daring measures are undertaken in response; and tranquility is restored.He was then hired by the Biograph Company as a writer and actor.He appeared in at least twenty films before June, 1908, when he was given the opportunity to direct a film, The Adventures of Dollie.Griffith's first film released by United Artists was Broken Blossoms.Seeking even greater independence, he moved his troupe of actors and technicians out of California to Mamaroneck, New York, where he bought an estate that he turned into a film studio. As the first filmmaker to exploit the potential of film editing to convey the impression of simultaneous action, and for his promotion of a style of acting and innovative uses of the camera that suited the representation of character psychology, Griffith is generally acknowledged by scholars and critics as the most influential figure in film history. Griffith 1875-1948 (Full name David Wark Griffith) American filmmaker.


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