Thoughts On: “The Birth of a Nation”

Great article

Silent-ology

Since this article turned out to be longer than I expected, I’ve organized it with a handy-dandy table of contents:

Intro
Modern Critiques of the Film
History and, Yes, Context
Epic Filmmaking
1915 Audiences and The Birth
Final Thoughts

Birth of a Nation famous charge pose

Slowly but surely, 2015 is beginning to draw to a close. It’s certainly been a year of ups and downs, and for people interested in film history, it’s been a year with a certain significance. And no, I’m not talking about the new Star Wars movie (not this time, that is).

February 8, 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the premiere of D.W. Griffith’s towering epic The Birth of aNation. A century ago that one film solidified the idea of “moving pictures” as a bona fide art form and set the standards for blockbusters to come. For some blindingly obvious reasons, this anniversary hasn’t exactly been greeted with cake and balloons, but…

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Finally my books have arrived…

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Well my books were removed from my shelves and boxed up, just over two years ago. And for that period of time, sat in storage, until finally, just after Labor Day (USA) arrived in the US from London. Arriving in NYC, they were unloaded from the container and transferred to a truck to be driven across the continent.

Finally, they arrived. And, within four days of being removed from the truck and into the house… they were unpacked and put onto the shelves awaiting them. Each book placed in it’s proper and respectful place.

unpacked

One box at a time… one book at a time, unpacked, inspected, looked at lovingly (remember I’d been separated from them for two years), placed on the shelves and arranged according to my plans… Yes, I mapped their placement out… thought about it, and had to make a few adjustments – but all in all it went according to plan… and now I not only have a library again… but can grab any book (almost) at a moments notice and read or research to my heart’s content. My mind satisfied, and my heart overjoyed with being at one with my books again.

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You might recall, I said “almost” in the paragraph above… well not all my books fit into the shelves allowed. There are twenty plus boxes in the garage, wherein, I do not have space in the house. It’s okay these books are 2nds or 3rds on a subject that I already have at least one of… but the boxes are identified, so if I really need it… I can find it, within a matter of moments.

So now if you’ll excuse me… writing this made me think of something… so I am going to go find that book, sit on the sofa and read it…

In My Library – Part 3

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These are just a small portion of the 110 plus boxes of books, magazines, and memorabilia (including a few boxes of household items) that I recently sorted out (in storage).  The above photo is from when the boxes were loaded up for moving out.  They have been in storage for almost two years.

 

I spent 10 days in the UK, sorting through the furniture and miscellaneous home goods, clothes, et cetera to sell, give to charity or bin (throw away, rubbish).  Everything else, rechecked, repacked and or sorted for the removal company to pick-up and ship back home across the pond (the Atlantic) to USA, my second home.  I say second, because while I may have been born in the USA, being a native of Southern California… I really do LOVE Europe and the UK… this in my mind and heart is my first home.

 

Anyway, back to the books.  All the items will be picked up by the moving company on Wednesday, and then be shipped by container in a ship to the USA, across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal (I assume) and up to Los Angeles, wherein it will then be loaded onto a truck for the final leg of their journey back to home.  12 years ago they made the journey from Palm Springs to London… now a return.  Of course, in that time – I have added more books, more autographs, photographs, collectibles and posters… so the collection has grown.  But once again it will be home again, or – at least, back with me.

 

My books, my library, my reference.  It is not as if it was a typical reading library.  There are great books for reading (some novels), mostly biographies and histories.  Of the famous and near famous.  History, Hollywood, Politics and more… I love research and reference… I love to write… so my stories (own novels) get inspiration and ideas from what I have, or want to have… 

 

Whether writing about the history of Silent Films, or Movie Stars, or Hollywood (which was my home for many years – Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and even Los Angeles proper)… my books and magazines and memorabilia are me, and I am them.  We are inseparable.  Joined at the hip.  It may be an addiction as considered by some, but to me it is a hobby.  Many would consider me a hoarder, or pack rat, I consider myself an archivist/collector/historian… a saver of history.  A Time Lord of the Past… resurrecting the forgotten, the lost, the vaguely familiar.  Probably the things your great grandparents, or grandparents would remember more than you.  Yes, everything old is new again… in my eyes.

 

We have fond memories of all things nostalgic – however – I more than most, am able to hold them in my hands, fondle them and seemingly, actually, go back in time.  Bringing the past alive.

 

I will get my things, my treasures, my collectibles back in mid-late September.  Then carefully, once shelves are in place, begin the unpacking, unwrapping and placing items on their shelves in a particular order.  Drinking in the dust, and smell of paper, leather, binders glue, old newspapers, photo smells, all the while polishing the glass on framed items, and hanging with care in key spots on walls, or placing properly on dressers, counters or desk tops.

 

Yes, this is my life and is a bizarre one in some peoples’ eyes, but to me it is the very essence of life, through the ages, and the past holds the keys to the futures… so soon I will see the future, in my imagination, through the past lives of my books and collectibles as once again – they come home!

AL JENNINGS – photo 1

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AL JENNINGS

An unidentified film scene still from an unknown Al Jennings film.

In this scene, Al Jennings “The Bandit King of the Screen,” seems to be holding up a man, perhaps the bank president. If anyone has any information to help identify this still or the man (actor) being held up, please contact me.

From the Kevin John Charbeneau collection.