D.W. Griffith

"The tall, imposing figure of D.W. (David Wark) Griffith stands alone, dominating the landscape of the early American cinema. During the years from 1908 when he arrived at the Biograph Studios through 1920… no single individual had so marked an effect on the development of the cinema both in the US and abroad as did Griffith." - Joel W. Finler (The Movie Directors Story, 1985)

D.W. Griffith

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
(1875-1948) Born January 22, LaGrange, Kentucky, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Short Films, Melodrama, Romance, Historical Film, Historical Epic, Epic, War
Key Collaborators: G.W. Bitzer (Cinematographer), James Smith (Editor), Robert Harron (Leading Character Actor), Kate Bruce (Leading Character Actress), Lillian Gish (Leading Actress), Mae Marsh (Leading Character Actress), Carol Dempster (Leading Actress), Hendrik Sartov (Cinematographer), Rose Smith (Editor), Charles Hill Mailes (Leading Character Actor), Alfred Paget (Leading Character Actor), Porter Strong (Character Actor)

"Since the 1980s, Griffith’s status has been in nearly steady decline, or at least dramatic reassessment. An important renaissance of early film history has systematically rediscovered and reinserted other individuals, films, and social forces as crucial formative influences on the development of American and world cinema. Moreover, the insights of cultural studies made it impossible to continue forgiving the sexism and vicious racism at the core of his work while at the same time praising his craft and romanticizing his life. For many today, Griffith represents much that was wrong with Hollywood, American ideology, and even dominant film histories of the past. Nonetheless, Griffith’s films remain key texts for understanding the development of narration in cinema. Theorists interested in film language point to their shot scale and editing patterns as important markers of a developing cinematic code system, while others look to Griffith as a canonical source of gender and genre construction in cinema." - Richard Neupert (Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film, 2007)
"The single most important figure in the history of American film and one of the most influential in the development of world cinema as an art... From the very start, he showed a remarkable instinctive understanding of the creative potential of the medium, using inherently cinematic techniques - changing camera angles, intercutting, crosscutting, parallel action, camera movement. dramatic lighting, the close-up, the full shot, rhythmic editing, etc." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"American pioneer of the silent cinema and of many of its more sophisticated techniques. Griffith is still generally regarded as the first great American director despite the failure of many of his later films; and, between 1914 and 1921, when his talent and confidence were in full flower, he was the maker of some of the most famous and exciting films in Hollywood history." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
"Griffith devised a grammar of emotions through his expressive editing. The focal length of his lens became a function of feeling. Close-ups not only intensified an emotion; they shifted characters from the republic of prose to the kingdom of poetry. Griffith's privileged moments are still among the most beautiful in all cinema. They belong to him alone, since they are beyond mere technique. Griffith invented this "mere" technique, but he also transcended it." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"A giant of the industry, Griffith more than anyone else was responsible for creating or refining film technique into a mode of creative expression. His genius covered writing, directing, editing, and even advertising a film." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"Talkies, squeakies, moanies, songies, squawkies... Just give them ten years to develop and you're going to see the greatest artistic medium the world has known." - D.W. Griffith
"Actors should never be important. Only directors should have power and place." - D.W. Griffith
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Intolerance (1916) , Broken Blossoms (1919)
Recommended
The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912), True Heart Susie (1919) , Way Down East (1920)
Worth a Look
The Country Doctor (1909), A Corner in Wheat (1909), The Unchanging Sea (1910), The Lonedale Operator (1911), The Painted Lady (1912). The Girl and Her Trust (1912), The Mothering Heart (1913), The Birth of a Nation (1915) , The Mother and the Law (1919), Dream Street (1921), One Exciting Night (1922), Orphans of the Storm (1922), The White Rose (1923), Isn't Life Wonderful (1924)
Approach with Caution
For His Son (1912), The Old Actor (1912), The Battle at Elderbush Gulch (1913), The Avenging Conscience (1914), Hearts of the World (1918), A Romance of Happy Valley (1919), The Sorrows of Satan (1926), Abraham Lincoln (1930), The Struggle (1931)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Birth of a Nation
    comments powered by Disqus