The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Anything and everything silent photoplay!
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donnie
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The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by donnie » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:19 am

Yesterday, I got to watching again the first part of the 3-part documentary on Griffith made by Gill and Brownlow back in the 80's. I was reminded of Griffith's artistic ability to form unforgettable images on the screen. Here are two screenshots I made while watching the documentary. The first is an idyllic rural scene (unsure what film), and the second from the burning of Atlanta during Birth of a Nation. Aren't those amazing images?
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normabanana1800
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by normabanana1800 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:46 am

Nice cinematography. If they were colour, would be perfect.

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Kitty
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by Kitty » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:11 pm

I especially like the top one.
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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donnie
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by donnie » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:39 pm

I say Griffith's genius, but I think Billy Bitzer, his cameraman, really gets a lot of credit. He was certainly a genius in his own right; it is easy to see why Griffith depended on him so heavily in the creative process.

If you've not seen the Griffith documentary, the whole thing is on YT in 3 parts. (Actually I don't know if I've watched all of it yet). If time is limited, just check out the opening couple of minutes where the floating frames go to make up the iris of Griffith's eye—that was superbly done—and I absolutely LOVE that music. The way the strands of harmony flow together in the strings—I can listen to over and over and over. That is by Carl Davis, who was another genius!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWOaVhjQxZE

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Kitty
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by Kitty » Fri May 19, 2017 1:41 pm

Which Griffith movies stand out to you as particularly good?
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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donnie
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by donnie » Sun May 21, 2017 3:48 pm

Some of Griffith's major films I haven't seen (like Hearts of the World, for example). BOAN is certainly impressive in every cinematic sense—but the virulent racism it contains makes it hard to watch. Intolerance is also most impressive, and something everyone should see. True Heart Susie is a favorite of mine, and I'd like to see some of the other "rural" dramas. But among the features I've seen, I'd have to say that Broken Blossoms is the masterpiece—although, again, that's a hard one to watch.

But the body of Griffith's work I like best of all is the Biographs. Those are so interesting in terms of Griffith's experimentation, and many of them are extremely well-made. Also, they're easier for me to watch, since I don't have the patience to sit still very long :roll: :) Here are some of my favorite Biographs:

The Female of the Species
The Musketeers of Pig Alley
The New York Hat
One is Business, the Other Crime
The Sunbeam
Death's Marathon
An Unseen Enemy
What Shall We Do with Our Old?
For His Son
The Painted Lady
The Mender of Nets

What of Griffith's work do you like best?

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Kitty
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by Kitty » Sun May 21, 2017 6:48 pm

I've seen quite a few of those you list. They are all exceptional in my mind, too. I guess I didn't realise these are all Griffith's.
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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dachshundonstilts
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Re: The Genius of D.W. Griffith

Post by dachshundonstilts » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:45 pm

If I recall correctly, it was Billy Bitzer who came up with the idea of reflecting sunlight onto the actors' faces. That makes such a difference when you compare the cinematography of two films like, say, "Birth of a Nation" and "A Fool There Was" (both from 1915).
"I feel so low, old chap, that I could get on stilts and walk under a dachshund." - Monty, "It" (1927)

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