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Comparison of Two Films

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In that paper, I will try to compare two films which are "A Birth of a Nation" directed by D.W.Griffith and "The Bicycle Thieves" directed by De Sica. After giving the story of the films, I will try to explain their technical features and their similarities.

A Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith

Griffith can be seen as the first 'modern' director, his greatest achievements being the historical epics The Birth Of A Nation. When it was released, it was one of the longest films ever made, over three hours in length. The prologue depicts the introduction of slavery to America in the seventeenth century and the beginnings of the abolitionist movement. The major part of the film depicts the events before, during and after the Civil War. It focuses on the exploitation of the newly-freed Negroes and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the south. Griffith shows it as a drama, a romance, and a documentary, with the vivid period reconstruction outweighing the personal stories. The title of the film is an interesting one. It is unknown whether the title refers to the birth of the reunited states, or the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. I tend to think that the film has a double meaning. In showing the Ku Klux Klan as good guys, it is obvious that Griffith was trying to show their birth as a positive event for the United States. Also, he was showing that the U.S. was once again reunited after the war, leading to the strengthening of the nation. It forebodes the future, when the South and the blacks living there are kept in check by the Ku Klux Klan , making the U.S. that much greater. Though it would be better to ignore this notion of the birth of the Ku Klux Klan, it cannot be due to the film's content, although the film does show a truly "united" states.

The film is an incredible piece of propaganda for both the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow system. The Jim Crow system was undergirded by the following beliefs or rationalizations: Whites were superior to Blacks in all important ways, including but not limited to intelligence, morality, and civilized behavior; sexual relations between Blacks and Whites would produce a mongrel race which would destroy America; treating Blacks as equals would encourage interracial sexual unions; any activity which suggested social equality encouraged interracial sexual relations; if necessary, violence must be used to keep Blacks at the bottom of the racial hierarchy People who knew nothing about the KU KLUX KLAN or thought of them as white villains before Birth of a Nation probably changed their minds and donned hoods of their own upon seeing the film. The mainstream picture was probably the best advertisement that the KU KLUX KLAN could have had. The vilifying of blacks also led to the Jim Crow system. When it was portrayed in this movie as acceptable, people in the South felt much better about doing horrible deeds to black citizens, denying blacks their civil rights

Though the portrayal of both blacks and the KU KLUX KLAN were extremely off track, the movie itself was an amazing work of cinema for its time. This was probably the first movie to use hundreds of extra in a battle scene. These scenes were well crafted by the filmmaker, and while not to the perfection of more modern films such as Braveheart, the technology and genius that the filmmaker used rival such films. To think that the movie was released only fifty years after the end of the Civil War makes the feat seem even more incredible. In seeing the huge battles, I did not need sound to hear the sounds of battle in my imagination. It would have been incredible if the movie had been made in the era where sound came into movies. Griffith deployed all the technical experiments of his previous movies for maximum visceral effect, along with a prepared score mixing classical music and folk tunes. With expressive close-ups, including cross-cutting, multiple camera positions, inter-titles long shots, irises and superimposition, Griffith communicated not only the monumental scale of Civil War battles but also the intimate psychology of his central characters. The climactic ride of the Klan to save white girlhood from black defilement marked Griffith's most extraordinary and influential use of parallel editing to galvanize emotional excitement.

The Bicycle Thieves by De Sica

This is a one of the most important Neorealist films. Neorealism is a movement especially in Italian filmmaking characterized by the simple direct depiction of lower-class life. De Sica's finest achievement is bringing the previously ignored working classes to the screen. His primary aim in the Bicycle Thieves was to use the camera



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