D.W Griffith

When people refer to the field of film, they will remember some famous actors, actress and other film directors. In the world of film, no one can deny the fact that D.W Griffith plays a vital role in the career of film, who develops much advanced technology and liberates the film from other kinds of arts in order to enable the film develop independently. He was regarded as the pioneer in the early film careers. In this paper, I will review the whole life of D.W Griffith and his achievements in the world of film.

D.W Griffith was born in 1875 in the United States of Crestwood, Kentucky. His father Jacob Griffith was formerly a doctor and later he participated in the civil war and other wars. Even, he was once a legislator in the states of Kentucky. In the civil war, he suffered from serious pain. The serious pain brought many effects on the life of D.W Griffith. Firstly, his military rand was ungraded. Secondly, he encountered serious bankruptcy. When D.W Griffith was ten years old, his father died. At that time, his family was very poor and G.W Griffith lived in a miserable family. Later, his mother let them remove from many places to other places. In the process of remove, they finally settled in the Louisville. His father has great impact on the ethical opinion of D.W Griffith. His work always keeps a style of romance. In his much work, some people complain that his work is filled with much element such as artificial and sweet words. We can clearly see that his father instilled much emotional bias with the mind of G.W Griffith. In terms of this point we can understand that the romantic work of G.W Griffith.

When G.W Griffith was seventeen years old, he acted as a journalist in the Louisville. In his this period of career, he wrote many scripts as amateur. With the advice from his friends, he attended in the theatre tour, but he didn’t stop writing scripts. However, this kind of scripts didn’t be published by other persons. Griffith wants to become a famous playwright all the time but he only received little success in his career. In the year of 1897, he entered into the theatres to write and perform, but the result didn’t satisfy himself. In the theatre, he met a girl named Linda and finally married with her. After his marriage, he, along with his wife took part in the tour of performance. In order to supplement the family, he also took some other kinds of work to earn much money. Even at that time, Griffith was not very rich and lived a poor life, but he didn’t abandon his dream to become very rich. Griffith once thought that he can take advantage of ocean to change them into resource. However, he devoted his whole life in the literacy because he wanted to pursue his dream. In order to make his dream come true, he read many literary works and other kinds of book. In his later life of the film director, the work from Dickens had directly effect on his life.

In the summer of 1907, he and his wife encountered unemployment in the New York. Even, he received much failure in his time at New York City. However, this failure was the foundation of his later life. He absorbed in much experience from this failure. In 1907, Griffith, still having goals for becoming a successful playwright, went to New York and attempted to sell a script to Edison Studios producer Edwin Porter. However, Porter rejected him for the reason that there are many scenes in the script. The best manifestation of this point is that the basic differences between them are the style of performance. Later, Porter let him to act as one character in the movie of Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest. After Griffith worked as a supporting actor for a period of time, he switched into the other company-American Mutoscope Company&Biographe, which was one of the competitive enemies of the Edison Company. At that time, the company owns debts to other companies One film in that company only sells a little money. However, Griffith insisted on writing scripts at that company until the executive of the company died. Later, the position of the leader of the company was replaced by Griffith. In the year of 1908, Griffith directed the first film of his life time named The adventures of Dollie. From the time of Griffith, the film has become one of the characteristic arts works in the whole world. When Griffith at the company, he subsequently directed a series of films. People often named this period of time as the apprenticeship. As for the time, people can divide this time into two parts-at the former time of this period, he insisted on using his stage name but at the later time, he again changed his stage name into D.W Griffith. In terms of this point, it indicates that he realize that the film has become one of the independent art works throughout the whole world. From Griffith firstly to begin his director career, the company gave him a perfect partner names BillyBitzer. From then on, they cooperate with each other perfectly and has become one of the fabulous partners in the world. When Griffith firstly directed his film, he had little knowledge towards the film. However with the help from Billy Bitzer, he told Griffith about the knowledge of film and other advanced technology. They cooperate with each other to create narrative way to tell the story to the public. This is the cornerstone of the later film career.

People are familiar with the two famous films of Griffith-The birth of a Nation and intolerance. In the film of Griffith, he firstly introduced the technology of switch-back into the creation of one film. In the film of The Father Hour, he made use of the technology of switch-back to create a sense of tension in the climax of the film. Later, he not only utilized the technology in the climax of the film but also utilized the technology throughout the whole part of the story. Moreover, he created many scenes in the film rather than limited with only a few of the scene. In addition, he also introduced panoramic scene in the film. Some films only use a few characters to support the whole film. However as for the film of Griffith, he deliberately lost the foot of characters. He used panoramic scene to support the whole film. The most significant achievement of Griffith is the creation of technology of Montage.

That two films-The Birth of a Nation and the Intolerance has become the peak in the life of Griffith. This two films indicated that the film has become one of the social strong power to promote the development of the society. In this two films, Griffith prepared for a long time when he was at the opponents of the company of Edison Company. In the creation of this film, he not only directed the films but also acted as other kinds of workers in the film including some chores. These two films received high box office in the history of the field of film. In the film of The Birth of a Nation, he could organize every scene in perfect order and embodied the film with colorful imagination. In terms of this point, people in public all regarded him as high praise.

However in the later film of Intolerance, the film encountered serious financial difficulties. As for the film of Intolerance, people didn’t give highly praise like the film of The Birth of a Nation.

In the later life of Griffith, the serious financial difficulties of Intolerance indicate that the failure of Griffith(Johson, New York Times,1) There are many other persons replacing the position of Griffith. Some people say that the reason of failure of Griffith is that Griffith lost strong interests towards the career of film. Other people think that the style like modesty of Griffith was replaced with the artificial style.

After reviewing the whole life of Griffith, no one can deny the fact that Griffith really plays a vital role in the field of film. We should owe the advanced technology in the film and other kinds of imagination to the Griffith.

Work Cited

David W. Griffith, Film Pioneer, Dies; Producer Of ‘Birth Of Nation,’ ‘Intolerance’ And ‘America’ Made Nearly 500 Pictures Set, Screen Standards Co-Founder Of United Artists Gave Mary Pickford And Fairbanks Their Starts.”. New York Times. July 24, 1948, Saturday


— Trolly Zhao

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7 Responses to D.W Griffith

  1. Ok, can someone help me – how in the world do I post to this blog? I’m supposed to turn in a paper on Ted Turner, but there is nowhere for me to submit it or post it on here!!!

    • vegavin says:

      when you’re viewing all the possible posts you can view there should be a link clear near the top next to “Posts” that says “Add New” You can post there, I believe. You have to keep in mind that it’s like an active blog so your mind is kindof in a whole different world it’s not used to. ha. confusing, I know. Hope I helped!!

  2. stephswitzky says:

    Like my post about Ted Turner, i am also very unfamiliar with Griffith…that is until I read the text. I guess because I am not one who reallly appreciates or studies movies I haven’t given much thought to the history. At the risk of sounding completely out of touch, I will admit that I have not seen either of these movies and so it is hard for me to really capture their significance. i do however, understand that Griffiths is responsible for making movies less stagnant than my home movies.

  3. srchapman2 says:

    I also am not too familiar with D.W. Griffiths, so I found this paper very interesting. The movies are not really my topic, as an English major, and I am more interested in Literature, but I do love studying new things as well. I thought that you might have focused a little more on his professional life instead of delving so far back and spending so much on his early personal life. A brief mention of his parents and what happened could work, but I would rather focus on his professional career, such as his achievements and his downfalls. Very interesting though, and I enjoyed reading it.

  4. vegavin says:

    I really haven’t heard of his name before. Billy Blitzer, though, on the other hand I’ve very vaguely heard of. I’m interested to go look in the old $5 movie bin and find The Birth Of A Nation. I enjoy watching movies that have significance in the field of cinematography. I’m actually excited. If he invented the camera techniques that I think you’ve explained, then yes, he is VERY influential because those are still, to this day, very modern and yet to be beat. I’m just in the middle of watching The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alfred Hitchcock so I’m excited to how it compares. Thank you for your info, Trolly. 🙂

  5. rabovaird80 says:

    Good work on this paper, and thanks for sharing with us about DW Griffith.

    Anyone who studies film has heard about the classics “The Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance.” They’re both highly acclaimed for various reasons by film historians, but I haven’t seen either of them. Has anyone else?

    You mentioned several pioneering techniques that Griffith used: switch-backs throughout the whole movie, many scenes instead of just a few scenes, panoramic scenes, and montages. These are simple techniques that film devotees often take for granted. When I taught Video Productions at the high school level, these were some of the first techniques we studied and used in our basic projects.

  6. Even for someone that has never heard of Griffith, nor understands fully his significance in pioneering cinematography, his story of how he became a success is pretty inspiring. These days, you always hear about the struggling artist scraping by to pursue his dream, but in the early 1920’s, I can imagine how doing something like that would make you pretty unique. I imagine that people didn’t really have the tolerance or understanding as we do these days, and it must have been hard for him to not give up and pursue a more financially stable living, especially after getting married.

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