Filming a Silent Epic

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 8.09.11 PMAs I continue my work on the making of the film, The Birth of a Nation, it is nice to run across the words of the director himself, D.W. Griffith, providing a greatly embellished (in terms of numbers involved) version of the story to the New York Sun. I am particularly interested in Griffith’s testimony concerning the film’s black extras. “The negro is a natural actor,” he claimed, “and the men and women of that race fully competent.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 8.34.52 PMWell…wasn’t that mighty nice of him to say? Shucks. Here’s the full article, published April 25, 1915 – just a few months after the film premiered (under the title: The Clansman) in Los Angeles at Clune’s Auditorium. Have a look…you should find the black actors’ living arrangements while on set “peculiar” to say the least. And I would like to thank Cynthia Lynn Lyerly for tipping me off to this one. I’ll remind anyone who will listen – Twitter and other social media platforms are simply fantastic venues for the sharing of information and ideas – and much easier to access than academic conferences.

With compliments,

Keith