D.W. Griffith Presents "The Birth of a Nation" Page: 19 of 20
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"THE BIRTH OF A NATION"
There are over 5,000 distinct scenes in "The Birth of a Nation."
18,000 people and 3,000 horses were utilized in making the narrative.
Mr. Griffith worked for 8 months without a let up to complete the picture.
The approximate cost of the production was $500,000. The women's dresses of
the period of 1860 used up 12,000 yards of cloth. Over 25,000 yards of white material
were sewed into the costumes of the Ku Klux Klans.
200 seamstresses worked for two months to make these costumes historically correct
and appropriately picturesque.
5,000 works and reports on the history of the Civil War and the periods immediately
leading up to and following the great conflict were searched for authentic data.
This research was conducted by four college professors specially engaged upon it.
Every piece of ordnance or musketry in the battle scenes is an exact reproduction
of the artillery and arms used on both sides during the war of the 60's.
For the assassination of President Lincoln, Ford's Theatre, Washington, was reproduced
to the smallest detail. The scene itself was taken in the presence of several
eye witnesses of the actual occurrence. These witnesses were in Ford's Theatre the night
John Wilkes Booth's shot laid the great Lincoln low.
To depict the ravages of Sherman's March to the Sea, a city was specially built,
only to be destroyed before the eyes of the spectators of the picture.
$10,000 a day was paid for the use of an entire county in order to reproduce the
wild rides of the Klansmen.
West Point engineers laid out the great battle scene of Petersburg from maps and
reports in the War Department at Washington. Intimate details of the action supplied
by veterans who fought on either side.
Night photography was perfected for the first time to secure battle scenes in the
dark. This detail cost $5,000.
Great artillery duels actually reproduced. Specially prepared shells exploded at a
cost of $80 each.
A commissary and two hospital corps were maintained while the pictures were being
taken. Not a human life was lost.
A musical score for 40 pieces composed and minutely synchronized to several thousand
The condensed production represents 12,000 feet of film. Nearly 200,000 feet of
film was originally taken.
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Griffith, D.W. D.W. Griffith Presents "The Birth of a Nation", book, April 1, 1924; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth21924/m1/19/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library.