D.W. Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation has the distinction of being at once one of the most revered and most criticized films in cinema history. This conflicted reputation stems from the film's combination of pioneering technical innovations and racial propaganda; the result was a visual epic of the Civil War and Reconstruction that had far reaching cultural effects. Birth of a Nation helped establish new cinematic conventions as well as film's reputation as a serious artistic medium; at the same time, the film incited race riots across the country, helped rationalize legal segregation and rampant lynching, and added momentum to the revitalization of the Ku Klux Klan.
|The CD-ROM Griffith In Context delivers the film and contextualizing corollary materials in an interactive format that makes the film's cultural and cinematic impact tangible. Griffith in Context breaks away from similar film studies CD-ROMs in its use of a "filmstrip" interface that enables frame-by-frame textual analysis in relation to four intertwined indices of analysis. The CD-ROM will encourage students to draw connections between diverse materials including interviews with historians and film scholars, film clips, historical documents, timelines, portions of Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman, and archival materials related to the production of the original novel and the film. The multimedia format will also be utilized to teach basic editing and "scene-building" principles by allowing students to dissect and reorganize clips from the film.|