Cross cutting is a form of parallel editing that is used in

Cross cutting is a form of parallel editing that is used in film to link action that is happening at the same time, in two different locations. D.W Griffith also makes extensive use of shot variation, and shot variation is merely defined as the use of different kind of shots (.e.g. wide shot, close up etc.), in order to set a certain tone in that particular point of action and to evoke certain thought and feelings in the viewer. In this essay I will be analysing D.W Griffiths’ use of both of these important tools in his works, but more specifically in ‘The birth of a nation’.David Wark Griffith was a director, writer and producer born on the 22nd of January 1987, in Kentucky (Texas).D.W Griffith began his creative career path as a writer and sold his first play called “A fool and a girl” to James K. Hacket. Griffith then ventured into acting for “The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company”. Griffith then went into film directing when a director for “The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company” had some family issues and he was thus introduced to the film industry from behind the scenes. Also known as the father of film, D.W Griffith directed the first film in Hollywood, California, called “old California”. And after many more films, he then went to shoot the very controversial “the birth of a nation” in 1915.In true Griffith nature, the film portrait very narrow, rigid and racist views and touches a lot on the racial state of America from the white man’s Point of view.Part 1: The birth of a nation is a 1900’s American film that focuses on two families that are placed in juxtaposition or in contrast to one another: The Stoneman’s(Austin Stoneman, his daughter and two sons) and the Cameron’s (Dr Cameroon, his wife and their 5 children).Phil Stoneman falls madly in love with Margaret Cameron while Ben Cameron obsesses over a photograph of Elsie stoneman. As this was during the civil war, the young men fight in their separate armies, and one of the Stonemans and two of the Cameron’s were murdered in the war. Ben Cameron was badly injured and was taken to a healthcare facility in Washington D.C. While at the hospital, Ben meets the woman that he has been obsessing over (Elsie Stoneman), who was there as a nurse. Also during this time, Ben was told that he will be hanged, while he was in hospital his mother went to President Abraham Lincoln to beg for his pardon, but he was automatically pardoned when Lincoln was assassinated.Part 2: Stoneman and Lynch (his mentee) head to South Carolina, to witness the reconstruction of policies, where Lynch was placed as the Lieutenant governor. During these elections, the whites were denied the vote and the newly elected legislator was mostly black. We see them exuding very inappropriate behaviour and pretty much acting like Neanderthals, E.g. putting their feet on the table, drinking alcohol, eating etc. Ben Cameron then started cooking up his idea of revenge, which came to him when he saw children who were playing and pretending to be ghosts, and thus the Klu Klux Klan was born. Soon after, Flora Cameron goes off to the woods to get a bucket of water, and is followed by a soldier named Gus, who wants to marry her, flora however is not interested so she runs and eventually jumps off a cliff. Ben saw her jump; he collected her body and took it back home. The K.K.K then hunted Gus down and killed him.Lynch then legalizes interracial marriages and arrests Dr. Cameron for being in possession of Ben’s K.K.K attire (which was a criminal offence by this stage). Dr Cameron was then rescued by Phil and some black workers, and along with Margaret, they decided to flee. In the middle of the trip, their wagon broke down, so they were given asylum by two former soldiers. Congressman Cameron refuses to be involved with Lynches Shakedown and decides to leave, at the same time, Elsie learns of Dr Cameron arrest and goes to plead for his release but instead, Lynch tried to force Elsie to marry him, which caused her to faint. Elsie then broke the window and cried for help and thus came the K.K.K, which was being led by Ben to rescue Elsie and the came out victorious and Lynch was captured. Lynch is men surround the hiding spot of the Cameron’s and Ben along with the clan come to their rescue. The next election K.K.K went and intimidated all the black people not to vote.The film ends with the double wedding of Margret Cameron and Phil stone man, as well as Elsie Stone man and Ben Cameron.The most prominent example of cross cutting in the birth of a Nation is the scene where Flora Cameron went to fetch water in the woods, and ended up being chased by Gus, a soldier who wanted to marry her. In this particular scene, Griffith uses cross cutting to king of increase the pace of the film, and thus creating a sense of panic and to create the intense dramatic tension at thus creating some sort of climax in this scene. Using the cross cut editing technique here gives Griffith a certain amount of control over the feelings and emotions of the viewer. We see the panic of Flora as she tries to run away from Gus, but we also see Ben using to help her, and the dramatic tension here is created using Cross cutting in order for our minds to wonder or feel anxious about Weather Ben will arrive in time to save Flora or not.We see quite a bit of shot variation in the scene where the mostly black legislative council holds their first meeting. We first get a wide shot of the inside of the room, this I believe was done to show the view that there was mostly black people there and also to give us a sense of the rowdiness of the meeting almost as if to link back people to hooligan behaviour. We then get medium shots and clos ups of different black people displaying inappropriate behaviour, like taking off his shoes, drinking liquor, eating fried chicken etc. This was done to display black people as Neanderthals and people who are incapable of being in leadership positions, and therefore shouldn’t. This highlight an important theme that is explored in the film: What would happen if blacks took over”?In conclusion, D.W Griffith used these two tools so perfectly and so seamlessly and he indeed did grab the attention and to control the emotion of the viewer. He also used these tools to highlight important themes and to emphasise the narrative of the whole film.Reference List1. Gianetti L., 2005. “Editting” in Understanding Movies. 10th edition2. Hayward S., 1996. Key concepts in cinema studies (p. 203). London: Routledge3. Cook., DA. 1990. D.W. Griffith and the Development of Narrative form, in A History of Narrative Film, pp 61- 108. New York and London: W.W Norton and company4. https://expertinediting1.blogpost.com/2012/06/Shotvariation.html?m=1

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