MostlyFilm revisits Phil Concannon‘s enlightening piece on DW Griffith’s Birth Of A Nation
While the film world’s eyes are turned towards London for the LFF, Alex Barrett talks about his ambitious new film project about the city, and explains how you can get involved.
By Tindara Sidoti-McNary
Do you remember the acclaimed nineties BBC drama that brought actors Christopher Eccleston and Daniel Craig to popular attention? I recall it fondly as ‘Our Wigs in the North’. You see, friends, I have a problem with hair and make-up. The anachronistic mullet, the dreadful syrup, the misplaced pout; I cannot rest when it doesn’t work in a TV or film drama. Immune to the frustrated protestations of my viewing companions, I just can’t ignore it and be another brick in the fourth wall. The distraction of an obvious scratchy looking wig or time travelling bonce infuriates me deeply, often forcing me to shout obscenities about fringes at the telly.
by Philip Concannon
“In the brief span of six years, between directing his first one-reeler in 1908 and The Birth of a Nation in 1914, Griffith established the narrative language of cinema as we know it today.” – David A. Cook, a History of Narrative Film (2004)
“DW Griffith, when you come right down to it, invented motion pictures. As Lionel Barrymore says, there ought to be a statue to him at Hollywood and Vine, and it ought to be fifty feet high, solid gold, and floodlighted every night.” – Mack Sennett
If you believe some of the things that have been said about him, there was no cinema before DW Griffith. Sure, there were other innovators in the medium’s nascent years, but Griffith was the man who broke new ground and unified these techniques into a narrative that played out on a scale unprecedented in American cinema. The Birth of a Nation was the first film blockbuster, it is unquestionably one of the most influential pictures ever made, and it immediately launched the man behind it into the pantheon of great directors. Whether or not he should remain there is another matter entirely, however, as we consider the thorny question that faces everyone who sits down to watch The Birth of a Nation – should this epic be considered as one of American cinema’s greatest achievements, or its greatest shame?
by Susan Patterson
Mostly Links is back and this week it goes colour. Mostly Links has been pondering why so many films are so blue. And orange. If you’re wondering what we mean think CSI Miami. And then some. Mostly Links first pondered this after seeing Carancho (dir: Pablo Trapero, Argentina, 2010), and wondering why everyone was wearing a blue shirt, and why all the streets were bathed in orange light, until finally everything shot from inside a car was steely grey, with not a single other colour in sight.
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