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Excuse my Work in Progress - On All Pages as I'm developing what will be the most unique and exciting way to learn the history of Motion Pictures through the Life and Career of David Wark Griffith.
D.W. Griffith Biograph Film Years
D.W. Griffith's Feature Film Years
We all have our heroes in life, some look up to baseball players, politicians, astronauts, actors, singers and even filmmakers.
My fascination from the time I graduated high school and left for college was to become a great film director like my idol D. W. Griffith. Now I have to keep those thoughts to myself or talk about him behind closed doors for fear of being raided by the Imperial Politically Correct Storm Troopers of America.
Even if you never heard of Griffith, his work affects anyone who picks up their camera phone to create a digital movie. To historian Richard Griffith, “the origins of older arts are lost in pre-history, their creators unknown or barely guessed at. But for the movies, we have an almost complete record of the ‘birth of an art.’ The creator of film art was David Wark Griffith.”
Most of the time when it comes to explaining who Griffith was, no one knows what I’m talking about; their face goes blank with confusion. If I mention that this Griffith guy made something called The Birth of a Nation, well that might provoke a reaction of “Oh, that racist,” or “Didn’t he hate black people?”
If you happened to take a film class, you might hear “I saw pieces of it in school,” and usually those clips are excerpts of the controversial scenes. Indeed, Griffith has been categorized in most quarters as a racist monster.
The D.W. Griffith
Biograph Film Shorts
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“D.W. Griffith – Master of Cinema by Ira H. Gallen
reviewed by James L. Neibaur
Ira H. Gallen’s exhaustive study of D.W. Griffith’s early career explores the pioneering screen work and provides a fascinating look at early cinema’s development. Having already penned a complete book on Griffith’s epic masterpiece “The Birth of a Nation,” in this book Gallen looks at the early Biograph shorts made from 1908-1913.
In order to put things into perspective and help the reader understand the impact and scope of Griffith’s work, Gallen takes us through the concept of the moving picture, from carnival attraction, to storefront novelty, and, eventually, a filmed narrative using editing to tell the story.
Inventors like Edison and Lumiere, early practitioners like Melies and Porter, and the evolution of the cinematic process are discussed clearly and concisely as a lead up to the author’s assessment of Griffith’s contribution.
Griffith’s early short films, made just after the turn of the century, explore a lot of concepts that would become commonplace in film making.
Giving cinema its syntax, Griffith enhanced his visuals with close-ups of the menacing actors in “Musketeers of Pig Alley,” the social comedy of “Those Awful Hats,” and the social drama of “A Corner in Wheat.” Gallen studies these films more completely than any previous book, examining camerawork, editing, acting, even appropriate musical accompaniment.
Griffith’s creative process, and each film’s impact on the aesthetics of cinema as well as its sociocultural impact are fully explored.
In order to truly appreciate cinema’s form and function, one must have an accurate frame of reference that truly understands the historical importance of the motion picture’s development.
Griffith is among the most important filmmakers from this period, thus all of his existing material demands to be seen. Gallen’s book on the master filmmaker’s early films is an absolute must for all libraries, research centers, historians, and scholars.
Racine Film Examiner May 4, 2016 5.0 out of 5 stars Book review:
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