D. W. Griffith  

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"The Birth of a Nation (1915) glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and idealizes the lost idyll of "the Old South". It shows the disruption of this order during reconstruction after the Civil War, and the restoration of White supremacy, which is shown a legitimate goal that unites the former enemies. In the end the leader of the Ku Klux Klan secures his private happiness too and the alleged idyll is restored."--Sholem Stein

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David Wark Griffith (January 22, 1875 – July 23, 1948) was an American film director.

Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation (1915) made investors a profit, but also attracted much controversy, for its racist depiction of African Americans and its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. Intolerance (1916) was made as an answer to his critics, but not as an apology for the negative images of African Americans in film. Several of Griffith's later films were also successful, including Broken Blossoms (1919), Way Down East (1920), and Orphans of the Storm (1921), but the high costs he incurred for production and promotion often led to commercial failure. He had made roughly 500 films by the time of his final feature, The Struggle (1931).

Together with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Griffith founded United Artists, enabling them to control their own interests, rather than depending on commercial studios.

A large part of Griffith's legacy is that he perpetuated racist stereotypes and opened the gateway to prejudice in mainstream Hollywood film. Refusing to apologize for the messages in his movies, he helped enable a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1910s and 1920s, enabling the onset of violence against black people and minorities in the United States. The Lost Cause post-Civil War narrative fabricated by Confederate politicians and high-ranking military was considered to be factual history after audiences saw it on the big silver screen.

Selected filmography

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