The Birth of a Nation (1915) is still seen as a monumental film due to its innovation of filming techniques that are still used today. For example, one of D. W. Griffith’s key contributions was his pioneering use of “cross-cutting” to follow parallel lines of action. An early audience might have been confused by a film that showed first one group of characters, then another, then the first again, But Griffith successfully uses such a technique in a chase scene that is rarely not use in an action movie today. Besides “cross-cutting,” There are at less 16 other ways in which Griffith was an innovator, ranging from his night photography to his use of the iris shot and color tinting. Due to Griffith’s efforts, this is a film of great visual beauty and narrative power.
However, the movie is racist and unapologetic about its attitudes, which are those of a white Southerner, raised in the 19th century, unable to see African-Americans as fellow beings of worth and rights.