Birth of a Nation Premieres

On Febuary 8, 1915, D.W. Griffith's controversial silent film, The Birth of a Nation, premiered in Los Angeles, California.

Released under the title, The Clansman, the movie debuted only after Griffith sought an injunction from the court. Although local censors approved the film, city council members responded to concerns about the racist nature of the picture by ordering it suppressed.

Griffith's story centers on two white families torn apart by the Civil War and reunited by what one subtitle calls, "common defence of their Aryan birthright." Promoting a skewed historical vision of a wartorn South further abused by carpetbaggers, scalawags, and radical Republicans, the film remakes Lincoln as a friend of the South. "I shall deal with them as though they had never been away," Griffith's Lincoln says. In The Birth of a Nation, the Ku Klux Klan rushes in to fill the void left by Lincoln's untimely death and the chaos of Reconstruction.

The Birth of a Nation (also known as The Clansman), is a 1915 silent film directed by D. W. Griffith; Set during and after the American Civil War, the film was based on Thomas Dixon's The Clansman, a novel and play. The Birth of a Nation is noted for its innovative camera techniques and narrative achievements, and its status as the first Hollywood "blockbuster." It has provoked great controversy for its treatment of white supremacy and its positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan.