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    The Birth of a Nation (Epoch Producing Corp., R-1921). One Sheet (28" X 41").
    D. W. Griffith's epic tale of the struggles of the South during the Civil War, and the later Reconstruction period, is considered a landmark of cinema history. It was the earliest full-length feature; prior films had a length of less than one hour. The film is still considered quite controversial, with its benevolent treatment of the Ku Klux Klan, racist attitudes towards African Americans, and the depiction of slavery as a benign necessity. Despite becoming an overnight blockbuster, many audience members protested the film, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was newly formed, staged ultimately unsuccessful demonstrations to have the film banned from theaters. Griffith was not deaf to the protests, and, partly as a response to criticism, soon began work on his next high-budget epic: Intolerance. Starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall, and Miriam Cooper, the story of The Birth of a Nation revolves around two families: the Northern Stonemans and the Confederate Camerons, and their battle for survival during the Civil War. Once Reconstruction begins, their struggles are with the former slaves goaded by the Radical Republicans and paving the way for "justified" retaliation by the KKK. The films greatest strengths are in the innovative narrative, suspenseful editing and open frames, complex stagings, and multiple planes of action. Although the film's original release was in 1915, it was in continuous release for many years. Offered here is the sensational stone litho one sheet from 1921. It has received expert restoration to address pinholes in the corners of the field and very minor chips and tears in the borders, with one that extended slightly into the bottom field. With beautiful archival restoration, it now displays magnificently. Despite the controversy of the film, this is an extremely rare item from an important historical film, reflecting the struggles for freedom and equality that this nation endured. Very Fine- on Linen.




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    November, 2017
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