Griffith, D. W.
spectaclefilms produced in Italy, Griffith made the first American film of four reels, Judith of Bethulia (1913), and followed with the then-immense ten-reel Birth of a Nation (1915), an anthology of film technique and a landmark in the history of cinema. Stung by criticism of his negative portrayal of mulattos, he responded with a more audacious work. Intolerance (1916) sought to demonstrate the persistence of racial and social prejudice through the ages. In 1919, with Charlie Chaplin , Douglas Fairbanks , and Mary Pickford , he founded United Artists. Among his films, frequently alternating between historical spectacles and modest domestic dramas, are Hearts of the World (1918), Broken Blossoms (1918), Way Down East (1920), and Orphans of the Storm (1922). Griffith had experimented with sound as early as 1921, but his movies with full sound were not commercially successful.
See Mrs. D. W. Griffith, When the Movies Were Young (1925); Lillian Gish's autobiography (1969); K. Brown, Adventures with D. W. Griffith (1973); R. Schickel, D. W. Griffith: An American Life (1984).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Film and Television: Biographies