birth of a nation art or propaganda

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Ngày đăng: 21/03/2014, 21:57

Mankind, engaging in war, driven by whatever instincts guide him,seeks to keep the defeats and victories of battle in his memory and on hisconscience. To accomplish this men have used paint and canvas, inkand paper, or instrument and song in their effort to communicate thetragedy and glory of war. Never, before the career of D.W. Griffith hadanyone attempted to bring the subject to film. The result of his efforts,weaknesses aside, mark a change in attitude towards film as a media. Perhaps audiences previously going to a picture expected emotionalmanipulation. After all, years before the film Birth of a nation, makers offilm employed techniques to evoke pathos from viewers; whether throughthe use of a sobbing mother, a frightened child or what have you. In thisrespect the film was not a ground-breaker; However, through its effectiveuse of devices such as symbolism, foreshadowing and allusions, as wellas building on and arguably perfecting film techniques such as continuityediting, intercutting and close-ups, he transformed film from mereentertainment to art and propaganda. To present and explore a theme,symbolism is used everywhere in literature. Whether the image is subtleor obvious it is regardless a sign of considerable calculation and effort. InBirth of a nation Griffith places symbols everywhere, in doing this hemerges literary devices of written works with his own visual works. Forinstance, the parched corn symbol in the scene where the southern armyis eating symbolizes their desperation in the face of defeat. This imageryproves that Griffith wasn't just presenting actors and a plot, he intended todig far deeper than that, into the realm of a clever storyteller. Anotherexample of his unique style is the use of foreshadowing, another literarydevice now commonly employed in film. The most prominent example ofthis is the scene where two gentlemen are talking, and as the camerapans down, we see a puppy struggling with a kitten. This is anotherstrong example of symbolism; however, even more importantly itforeshadows the coming war. It is expertly placed to add to the buildingtension between sides which the audience already knows results inconfrontation. Its placement reflects Griffiths desire to advance thecomplexity and diversity of film beyond entertainment to higher levels insociety. To manipulate his audience's emotions, he first had to drawthem into the story and in turn into the stories underlying theme. Heaccomplished this by using numerous virgin film tools, much as an artistuses his own tools to create a believable painting. Among these tools heuses panoramas to illustrate setting, to paint, if you will - a moving picture. To show the swell of heated gunfire on a crowded battlefield i.e.thescene of the battle of Petersburg, or to bring across image of the delicatebeauty of his native southern land to those who had never been there orseen a picture of it. This was the substance that transformed film into agenuine art form. Once he had the attention and anticipation of theaudience, as well as their almost guaranteed acceptance of his word, hemerely had to feed them a easily grasped, recognizable message to swaytheir emotions his way. This method of classic propaganda was used tofuel the audience's already considerable ill-founded hatred of blacks. Itcomes in the form of a rebel black group who terrorizes the Cameronfamily, the film's main characters. By placing blacks in this position it isn'tdifficult to imagine the reaction of an average theatre goer. The filmspawned riots, fired up racism, built stronger the negative stereotypes ofblacks. It portrayed them as lazy, as illustrated in the black parliament,where a man rests his bare feet on a desk, alluding to uselessness in theemployment environment. More horrifyingly than that it portrayed themas ultimately evil with the seizing of the Cameron's home and theattempted rape of one of their daughters. The obvious bias presented,although appalling, demonstrates just how effective Griffith was atutilizing film not with the intention to merely entertain, but to spreadpropaganda and affect the perceptions of society itself. Griffithexploited his audience, he turned them against minorities andthemselves. The film Birth of a nation exemplifies ignorance and hate atits worst. Although it stands for something that today is looked on asmorally wrong, it proves by this very reaction that the film is not just mereentertainment, but something with a far more serious purpose. SinceGriffith was the first to accomplish something of this nature, Birth of anation therefore marks the transformation of film from pure entertainmentinto art and propaganda. . accomplish something of this nature, Birth of a nation therefore marks the transformation of film from pure entertainmentinto art and propaganda. . attention and anticipation of theaudience, as well as their almost guaranteed acceptance of his word, hemerely had to feed them a easily grasped, recognizable
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