birth of a nation

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Ngày đăng: 21/03/2014, 21:57

Birth of A Nation: Art or PropagandaMankind, engaging in war, driven by whatever instinctsguide him, seeksto keep the defeats and victories of battle in his memory and onhis conscience.To accomplish this men have used paint and canvas, ink and paper,or instrumentand song in their effort to communicate the tragedy and glory ofwar. Never,before the career of D.W. Griffith had anyone attempted to bringthe subject tofilm. The result of his efforts, weaknesses aside, mark a changein attitudetowards film as a media. Perhaps audiences previously going to apictureexpected emotional manipulation. After all, years before thefilm Birth of anation, makers of film employed techniques to evoke pathos fromviewers; whetherthrough the use of a sobbing mother, a frightened child or whathave you. Inthis respect the film was not a ground-breaker; However, throughits effectiveuse of devices such as symbolism, foreshadowing and allusions, aswell asbuilding on and arguably perfecting film techniques such ascontinuity editing,intercutting and close-ups, he transformed film from mereentertainment to artand propaganda.To present and explore a theme, symbolism is usedeverywhere inliterature. Whether the image is subtle or obvious it isregardless a sign ofconsiderable calculation and effort. In Birth of a nationGriffith placessymbols everywhere, in doing this he merges literary devices ofwritten workswith his own visual works. For instance, the parched corn symbolin the scenewhere the southern army is eating symbolizes their desperation inthe face ofdefeat. This imagery proves that Griffith wasn't just presentingactors and aplot, he intended to dig far deeper than that, into the realm ofa cleverstoryteller.Another example of his unique style is the use offoreshadowing, anotherliterary device now commonly employed in film. The mostprominent example ofthis is the scene where two gentlemen are talking, and as thecamera pans down,we see a puppy struggling with a kitten. This is another strongexample ofsymbolism; however, even more importantly it foreshadows thecoming war. It isexpertly placed to add to the building tension between sideswhich the audiencealready knows results in confrontation. Its placement reflectsGriffiths desireto advance the complexity and diversity of film beyondentertainment to higherlevels in society.To manipulate his audience's emotions, he first had todraw them intothe story and in turn into the stories underlying theme. Heaccomplished thisby using numerous virgin film tools, much as an artist uses hisown tools tocreate a believable painting. Among these tools he usespanoramas to illustratesetting, to paint, if you will - a moving picture. To show theswell of heatedgunfire on a crowded battlefield i.e.the scene of the battle ofPetersburg, orto bring across image of the delicate beauty of his nativesouthern land tothose who had never been there or seen a picture of it. This wasthe substancethat transformed film into a genuine art form.Once he had the attention and anticipation of theaudience, as well astheir almost guaranteed acceptance of his word, he merely had tofeed them aeasily grasped, recognizable message to sway their emotions hisway. Thismethod of classic propaganda was used to fuel the audience'salreadyconsiderable ill-founded hatred of blacks. It comes in the formof a rebelblack group who terrorizes the Cameron family, the film's maincharacters. Byplacing blacks in this position it isn't difficult to imagine thereaction of anaverage theatre goer. The film spawned riots, fired up racism,built strongerthe negative stereotypes of blacks. It portrayed them as lazy,as illustratedin the black parliament, where a man rests his bare feet on adesk, alluding touselessness in the employment environment. More horrifyinglythan that itportrayed them as ultimately evil with the seizing of theCameron's home and theattempted rape of one of their daughters. The obvious biaspresented, althoughappalling, demonstrates just how effective Griffith was atutilizing film notwith the intention to merely entertain, but to spread propagandaand affect theperceptions of society itself.Griffith exploited his audience, he turned them againstminorities andthemselves. The film Birth of a nation exemplifies ignorance andhate at itsworst. Although it stands for something that today is looked onas morallywrong, it proves by this very reaction that the film is not justmereentertainment, but something with a far more serious purpose. Since Griffithwas the first to accomplish something of this nature, Birth of anationtherefore marks the transformation of film from pureentertainment into art andpropaganda. . attention and anticipation of theaudience, as well astheir almost guaranteed acceptance of his word, he merely had tofeed them a easily grasped, recognizable. aside, mark a changein attitudetowards film as a media. Perhaps audiences previously going to a pictureexpected emotional manipulation. After all, years
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