Comparing "The Birth of a Nation" and "Battleship Potemkin".
"The Birth of a Nation" (USA 1915) directed by D.W. Griffith and "Battleship Potemkin" (USSR 1925) directed by Sergei Eisenstein, are both extraordinary examples of momentous achievements in film history. Both films have techniques that were new and innovative to the film industry which makes them both staples on every "best films of all time" lists. Both directors are known for their unique camera styles and shot methods. Although the films originated in completely different nations, and dealt with different internal conflicts, the feelings of nationalism in their respective countries are apparent in each film.
D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" is a film that takes the viewer through history starting from the beginning of the civil war to the aftermath and the development of the Ku Klux Klan. The movie was adapted from the novel, "The Clansman" by clergyman, Thomas E. Dixon, Jr. The novel was openly racist in their depiction of the reconstruction period as one in which renegade mulatto "carpetbaggers" and Negro thugs joined with unscrupulous white politicians to destroy the social fabric of the South. In the adaptation into the film by Griffith the story covered not only the Reconstruction period but also the years immediately proceeding the Civil War and the war itself. (Cook 75-76) .
In the beginning of "Birth of a Nation" the Northern Stoneman brothers, sons of a powerful abolitionist senator Austin Stoneman, visit their friends the Cameron brothers on their Southern plantation. While there, Phil Stoneman fell in love with Margaret Cameron, and Ben Cameron saw a picture of Elsie Stoneman in which sparks an interest in him. Almost immediately following the Stoneman's return to the North, the Civil War begins to break out. During the fighting scenes Griffith combined long shots of the battlefields with medium and close shots of hand to hand combat to show the intense violence of war.