Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Theory of Film: David W. Griffith

David W. Griffith was born in La Grange, Kentucky in 1875. His father, who was a Confederate Army colonel, died when he was 7, upon which the family experienced serious financial hardships. When he was 14, his family moved to Louisville. He has to leave school and took his first job in a dry goods store and after that hi was an emloyee of a bookstore.

Griffith began his career as a hopeful playwright but met with little success; only one of his plays was accepted for a performance. Griffith decided to instead become an actor, and appeared in many plays as an extra

Film career

In 1907 Griffith went to New York and attempted to sell a script to Edison producer Edwin Porter. The script was rejected but he got a role in Rescued From An Eagle's Nest. This acting career continued when he accepted an acting job for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, commonly known as Biograph, in 1908.

Six years later, in 1914, he produced and directed the Biograph film Judith of Bethulia, one of the earliest feature films to be produced in the United States. Apparently, Biograph didn’t’ think that longer features were viable but disagreed Griffith and left them. He joined the Mutual Film Corporation and formed a studio known as Reliance-Majestic Studios (later named Fine Arts Studio). He produced The Clansman (1915), which would later be known as The Birth of a Nation.

The Birth of a Nation is the first feature length and also the first blockbuster. The Ku Klux Klan appears as a band of heroes and the black men are the enemies.

Very soon I’ll write a post about this film and what it meant. In the meantime, this is a selected filmography.

First film: Rescued from an Eagles Nest (1908) starring D. W. Griffith

Griffith as Director

  • - The Adventures of Dollie (1908)

  • - The Little Darling (1909)

  • - Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)

  • - The Mothering Heart (1913)


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