Petersburg in The Birth of a Nation

IMG_3607If you are watching The Birth of a Nation and you are wondering why the battlefield near Petersburg does not look much like Virginia it’s because 1) you have a keen eye and 2) it’s Burbank, California.

I was hiking in the Hollywood Hills the other day and came up on a good vista of the area – now Forest Lawn Cemetery. Much of the scene pictured in the immediate foreground was the Petersburg “set,” which stretched for several miles. Griffith oversaw the scenes from a tower and shouted direction – big megaphone in hand: just as you might imagine a silent film director would look, sans the jodhpurs.

So we have Virginia with chaparral – odd to be sure. Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got!

The_Birth_of_a_Nation_war_sceneWith compliments,


2 thoughts on “Petersburg in The Birth of a Nation”

  1. I used Goggle earth to locate the site of your pic. Your were in the area of the Hollywood sign, right ? Would be great if you could come up with an old pic of the movie set from the same place.

    1. Yes indeed, Roger – I was right down the hill, facing the other direction of the Hollywood sign – toward Glendale and Burbank. I am looking for a movie still of the set but nothing has turned up yet. I even tried taking screen shots from the film – but they all turned out blurry.

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