Compare and Contrast Essay Sample: Birth and Re-Birth of a Nation

Published: 2022-10-24
Compare and Contrast Essay Sample: Birth and Re-Birth of a Nation
Essay type:  Compare and contrast
Categories:  Racism Movie
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1455 words
13 min read

D.W. Griffin, a filmmaker believed that the KKK in 1915 was needed to serve a purpose. The purpose he was referring to was the advocacy for extreme reactionary positions such as anti-Catholicism, white supremacy and nationalism, and anti-immigration. President Woodrow Wilson supported the film by saying that it was writing history right since he viewed the Blacks as brutal and aggressive people. I do not agree with the president's view since the movie is infamously racist and controversial as it displayed black men as sexually hostile towards white women. Furthermore, the film characterized the KKK as a heroic movement yet the group used violence against African -American leaders and the members physically assaulted and murdered their opposers. The primary purpose of this essay is to explain the similarities and the contrast between D.W Griffith's Birth of a Nation and DJ. Spooky's Re-birth of a nation.

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Oscar Micheaux was a filmmaker of African-American descent who directed and produced over forty films from 1919 to 1948. He reflects the "The New Negro" in "Enter the New Negro" philosophy of Alain Locke through his films which are a challenge to the racial segregation that was going on at that period. One of the movies he produced, "Within our Gates" responded to Griffith's Birth of a Nation since the latter worshipped racial hatred. New Negro, on the other hand, was a term used during the Harlem Renaissance where there was outspoken advocacy for better treatment for the blacks.


One of the most obvious similarities between D.J Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation and Griffith's Birth of a Nation is the selection of sound as narrative. The two artists use the indexical present to draw the viewer into a direct relationship with the work. In Griffin's story of the Birth of a Nation, the filmmaker combines four tales at once to show the extent to which the world was confronting specific problems at the time. The film shows several parallel actions occurring separately but on different dimensions.

The three films have American racism as the central theme. Griffith's film is explicitly racist and endorses the Ku Klux Klan group that is violent towards the black people. In the movie, black men are portrayed as aggressive towards white women. Ben, one of the actors, is inspired by the white children wearing masks to scare black kids and he forms the KKK movement. Griffith's film somehow focusses on whether lovers from two politically opposing families can be together. The two families depicted include the Northern Stoneman's and the Southern Cameron's. after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Stoneman and his counterparts are determined to punish the South through using harsh means. The Reconstruction section of the film shows racist representations. For instance, when Stoneman and Lynch visit South Carolina, they see black soldiers harassing white people and pushing them to the sidewalks. However, white people are denied the vote, and most of the members elected are black. The elected black members are shown at their desks in the legislature having inappropriate behavior. For instance, one of the men takes off his shoes and places his feet on the counter while another drinks liquor while eating fried chicken as the debate goes on.

One may wonder why a black hip-hop musician would want to play a remix of Birth of a Nation and resurrect it. However, Spooky created his album since he saw the film as a way to tell the American racism from the subaltern's perspective and a different point of view. He uses the Rebirth of a Nation as a mirror to the racial politics, and he includes several paradoxes.

On the other hand, Parker as Tuner in his film Birth of a Nation, the filmmaker marries a slave, and he witnesses how slaves are brutally and inhumanely treated. He forms a rebellion, and at the film's final act, there is a bloody release.


As D.J Spooky attempts to rebrand the Birth of a Nation, his remix becomes controversial but at the same time culturally significant. Spooky tries to explain to his audience how political corruption can harm people even to this day. First, he cuts the film's length to a hundred minutes and most parts of the war section of Griffith's film are not included. Spooky's film is more concentrated on the Reconstruction era which is the second part of Griffith's play. Therefore, most sections of romance are stripped off, and the character development of Ben Cameron is minimized. What is left of Spooky's film is offensive imagery.

Secondly, Spooky bring most of the black characters in Griffith's film that are the background to the foreground. For instance, Spooky uses a parallel shift whereby people and objects are viewed from a different angle and perspective than they are in Griffith's film. This part of the edit is difficult to analyze for anyone who has not watched the original movie. Spooky's film also has a lot of repetition of images especially those involving Ben Carson seated on a rearing horse in Klan. Furthermore, there are offensive images of black men being aggressive to white women. Spooky uses reversal and mirroring in his video within the frame to make characters to appear looking at reversed images of themselves.

Although Griffin's and Parker's film share the same title, the two plays are very different. For instance, Griffith's film concentrates more on racist propaganda, racist supremacy, and the glorification of the KKK group. However, Parker's film depicts a challenge to white dominance and racism and promotes an honest confrontation to heal society and bring change. There are Christ-figure overtones as a theme of forgiveness is depicted. The film intrigues a serious debate on the necessities and limitations of forgiveness and advocacy for the promotion of morality. Parker in his movie portrays the need of the struggle for justice and equality for the black society. When Nat goes around preaching in the plantations, he witnesses horrific incidences of white owners on the black slaves. Young Nat also sees his father Isaac being stopped and confronted by white people in the woods and who is about to murder him but he grabs a rifle and kills one of them. After that, some white people come to interrogate the family and issue brutal threats to them. However, at that time, Nat's grandmother shows submissiveness, a character that depicts bravery.

The first impression brought up in Parker's film is the flag damned by God. The Christians in the South are persistent in defending what they believe in and consider as their traditions especially the brutal slavery. For instance, when young Nat knows how to read by himself, Elizabeth Tuner, a humane person but a racist, takes him to her house and teaches the young boy how to read the Bible. When Turner dies, Nat becomes a preacher to the former's slaves. The primary subject of this film is the deployment of Christianity. Matters of shame, responsibility, and guilt are widely discussed, and there is an intense combination of power and political insight.

In conclusion, the Griffith's, Parker's, and Spooky's films have both similarities and differences. The most significant similarity in the three films is the theme of slavery and racial discrimination of the black people as well as white supremacy. Griffith's movie is infamously racist and controversial since it depicts black men as sexually hostile towards white women. The KKK movement is portrayed as a heroic group yet the members are brutal and murderers who kill anyone who is against them and their beliefs. Griffith's film focusses on two political families who are rivals from the South and North. Black soldiers in the south are seen harassing white people, and the latter are denied their right to vote. The elected members are depicted engaging in inappropriate behavior such as placing their feet on the desk while the debate is going on in the legislature. On the other hand, D.J Spooky makes a remix of the same movie by Griffin but cuts it to 100 minutes, and most of the parts with war are not included. Spooky brings most of the black men in the background of Griffith's movie to the foreground and uses a lot of repetition to pass his message. Parker's film is about a slave who witnesses his fellow men being brutally treated by white supremacists and he continues to preach to them. Parker brings about themes of courage, religion and Christianity, and responsibility.

Works Cited

"DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation at Millennium Park (6/20/16)." YouTube, 20 June 2016,

"The Birth of a Nation (1915 Film by D.W Griffith)." YouTube, 10 July 2014,

"The Birth of a Nation. (2016) - Nate Parker Movie HD." YouTube, 21 June 2016,

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