The motion picture industry most likely began in Los Angles in 1902 when Thomas L. Tully opened the first theater exclusively for moving pictures. From its earliest days, when movies were thought of as peep shows, the Negro was presented in an unfavorable light.
The year 1915 is a significant date in motion picture history. This is the year of the release of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, the film version of Thomas Dixon’s pro South, Ku Klux Klan, novel, The Clansman. In terms of advancement of the medium, it must be regarded as one of the most significant films ever made. Subsequent to its release, movies were crude at best, with uneven lighting and quick jerky movements, the acting, melodramatic and exaggerated. From an artistic and technical outlook, it was a masterpiece of conception and structure. Though much has been written about it’s overt racism, it gave rise to the modern narrative film.
The Reconstruction scenes in The Birth of a Nation are especially harsh. The black members of Congress are portrayed as arrogant, lustful, and are shown drinking heavily right on the House floor. They are depicted going about the business of the country coarsely reclining in their congressional chairs, with bare feet plopped upon their desks. When the film was released small riots broke out in Boston, and other cities. Read more