The Birth of a Nation(1915)

November 12, 2016

birth-of-a-nation-d-w-griffith

This is for you. The ushers in Civil War garb, for you. The rows
of red velvet cushions, crafted for girdled backs and porcelain
bottoms, for you. The Birth, a new history formed because you
didn’t like the first one, for you.

A plea. We do not fear censorship, and we demand, as a right, the
liberty to show the dark side of wrong, so we might illuminate the
bright side of virtue.

We demand it with our hands.

In the quarters of the Majestic, the best boy first saw light under
his sheets and found it was his own: thin beams streaming from
his palms like light shooting through a pinhole. All over the studio
lot, workers woke to the same stigmata, the gaffers, the cutters, the
key scenics, and the set designers, waking, wondering, keeping
their arms outstretched as if they held fire and wiggling their
glowing fingertips like someone ready to ascend.

The beams grew stronger by salary and status. The
cinematographer, a policeman’s flashlight. The director of
photography, the light on a freighter’s mast.

Just off the lot, still under the storm of luminance, D.W. left a
dream to find his palms gone supernova. He reached for his wife
in the adjacent bed and cut her in half, along with the wall behind
her and the foundation of a neighbouring house.

This is the product of those hands, all for you. This palace built
for no other purpose, this birth, a world re-written with lightening,
the bright side of virtue slashing the old world to ribbons.

Gregory Robinson

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