In what is sure to be one of the year's most significant Blu-ray releases, Eureka Entertainment is bringing D.W. Griffith's controversial silent epic The Birth Of A Nation
to Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of its excellent Masters of Cinema series.
Originally released in 1915, Griffith's 3-hour saga recounts the building tensions between the North and South of the United States that led to the American Civil War, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Nearly 100 years after it was originally released, the film continues to divide audiences, championed for its breakthroughs in filmmaking and advances of cinematic technique, yet reviled for its overtly racist subject matter and skewed retelling of history.
Released on 22 July, this beautiful new 1080p restoration will be released in the UK in 2-Disc Blu-ray and DVD versions, complete with a host of supplementary features, including 7 shorts directed by D.W. Griffith, archival introductions, a newly-rediscovered intermission sequence and much more. For a better idea of what this landmark release includes, check out a clip from the film below, depicting Lincoln's final moments.
From the press release:
Eureka Entertainment have announced that they will be releasing a new two-disc 1080p presentation (on the Blu-ray) of D. W. Griffith's great and controversial 3-hour silent epic, THE BIRTH OF A NATION - often hailed as the first feature-length masterpiece of the cinema. It is the film that invented such commonplace staples of cinema/TV technique: panoramic shots, night photography, panning shots, its own musical score, and was the breakthrough film of one of the greatest actress of the silent era - Lillian Gish. Special features will include short vintage introductions to the film by Griffith and Walter Huston; newly rediscovered intermission and title sequences; seven Civil War shorts by Griffith totalling over 100 minutes in length; and a lengthy booklet with writing about the film, rare archival imagery; and more. THE BIRTH OF ANATION will be released on DVD & Blu-ray as part of the Masters of Cinema series on 22 July 2013.
"It is an unavoidable fact of American movie history, and must be dealt with" - Roger Ebert
"Birth of a Nation is a great epoch in picture making" - Variety
One of the most artistically significant and controversial motion pictures ever made, D. W. Griffith's silent epic The Birth of a Nation was a massive commercial success at the time of its release, owing to its dynamic storytelling and its breakthrough developments in cinema language that have become common traits of practically every film that has since followed. However, the picture's legacy is one that continues to elicit outrage over its vulgar depictions of African-Americans and its deceptive historiography of the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The Birth of a Nation begins depicting the amiable relationship between two families, Northern and Southern, and the way in which the impending Civil War intensifies the conflict of their worldviews. Following the end of the war and the assassination of President Lincoln, a lawless chaos courses throughout the Reconstruction South, and the Ku Klux Klan is formed to take on a rising black militia and impose a vengeful vigilante justice across their land and "birthright".
It's a film that's deeply divisive even to the senses of a single viewer: images of painterly beauty in composition and tonal quality often exhibit a contemptuous, inflammatory coarseness with regard to subject matter; just as frequently, long tracts evince an innocent, terrifically lyrical grandeur. Griffith would attempt to make amends for the moral schism of this schizophrenic epic in his next film, Intolerance, but The Birth of a Nation cannot -- and should not -- remain unseen, or un-discussed: it is a great, and terrible, masterpiece. The Masters of Cinema Series releases Griffith's three-hour epic, including a series of the director's Civil War shorts, for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK.
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