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Cross-cutting in Birth of a Nation

by Kate Fortmueller

D.W. Griffith is often credited as the father of narrative cinema and is well-known for his innovations in editing. These titles are particularly troubling when one considers that these innovations were developed through racist ideologies in his films. In one of the final sequences of The Birth of a Nation, Griffith cross-cuts between the Klan and the town. Consider the various storylines in this sequence. How many different storylines can he cut between? How does this affect the sense of time in this sequence?

The Birth of a Nation (1915) - The Klan storms the town

In this sequence the Klan storms the town and emerges victorious.

from The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Creator: D.W. Griffith
Distributor: Kino Video
Posted by Kate Fortmueller