The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Directed by D.W. Griffith

Two families, abolitionist Northerners the Stonemans and Southern landowners the Camerons, intertwine. When Confederate colonel Ben Cameron is captured in battle, nurse Elsie Stoneman petitions for his pardon. In Reconstruction-era South Carolina, Cameron founds the Ku Klux Klan, battling Elsie's congressman father and his African-American protégé, Silas Lynch.

I have always given Griffith his due as an outstanding master of the bourgeois film, [but] this can in no way be applied to The Birth of a Nation. [The] disgraceful propaganda of racial hatred toward the coloured people which permeates this film cannot be redeemed by the purely cinematographic effects of this production.

Sergei Eistenstein (1940)