Birth of a Nation by Raymond Speer
says: what if the movie "Birth of a Nation" was filmed in an alternate
timeline where the Confederacy won out? Please note that the opinions
expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
In 1915, the motion picture
BIRTH OF A NATION was released after almost a year in production. Its
director, David Wark Griffith, the son of a CS calvary officer who grew up
in modest circumstances, predicted that the most popular film that could
shown in the United States and the Confederate States would be an account of
how the two countries came to be rivals.
Griffith and his film makers and actors staged most of the movie in the
Canadian province of Ontario. The gray "Confederate" uniforms were more
accurately a dirty white, not gray, and the cinematagrapher of the film
would recall that the costumes of the Northerners was more usually brown
The highlight of the first half hour of the movie was the enactment of
Pickett's Charge (on what appears to be a potato field). For the first
time in recorded fable, General Lo Armistead is shown standing atop a
federal cannon. his hat stuck on the top of his upraised sword, gesturing
heroically towards the now fleeing foe. (In fact, Armistead was gutshot
when he reached the guns and died in a doctor's hut the next day).
According to the plot, an honest but poor couple have been divided by the
war. Reflection on the plight of that couple causes Jeff Davis of the
Confederacy and Abraham Lincoln of the Union to realize that harmony
across the border is best for both people, and the movie ends with an open
air wedding ceremony of the young couple which is mutually conducted by
Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant.
Contemporary journalism records that Confederate President Woodrow Wilson
said the movie was like writing history with lightning. United States
President Henry Cabot Lodge criticized the movie's insinuation that the
South had militarily thrashed the North on the third day of Gettysburg.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford starred in the sequel, BONDS OF
BROTHERHOOD (1922), in which Yanks and Southrons are depicted as natural
lovers during the First World War. The box office was poor in large
measure due to the outbreak of the Japanese- Confederate War over a canal
in Central America in 1923 and 1924.
says insightful comment from guest historian Michael N. Ryan: I found
the original or actual Birth of a Nation utterly repugnant due to the way it
portrayed blacks which is what Woodrow Wilson and his crowd approved. I
thought it would have been interesting if the Mulatto gang boss in demanding
to marry a white woman made his point clear in that his reason of
justification being his being Half White himself which would be an
interesting argument for the times in which the film was made. But
ultimately a film or novel is as good as its content and historical accuracy
and the way it is done. I find much of DW Griffith\'s work most lacking and
some of his characterizations offensive.
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