The Birth of a Nation is a 1915 silent film. It was directed by D. W. Griffith who is called the “father of cinema”.
The movie is noted for its innovative camera shots and great drama from advances in film narrative techniques. It was the first Hollywood blockbuster.
It also showed white supremacy in a way that brought back the KKK into modern society (it had mostly died off, by then, otherwise). As late as the 1970s, the KKK used the film as a recruitment tool.
When the film was first shown, riots broke out in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis refused to allow the film to open. After seeing it, gangs of whites went out to attack blacks.
The film interprets history that blacks were a wild crazy mess after the Civil War, and they couldn’t do anything but act like demonic marauding monsters trying to rape the pretty white girls of good breeding. The gloriously good KKK rides heroically to the rescue and saves the white girls from rape. Many white’s still hold this view of black history, today, even though it’s mean and stupid.
Roger Ebert, said of it: “‘The Birth of a Nation’ is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil.”
How much of America’s deeply in ingrained and unique racial prejudices comes from Hollywood making the Whites good and the Jews, Blacks, Indians, Mexicans and Asians bad for so many decades?