It might as well be titled “The Birth of the Movies.” D.W. Griffith's 1915 Civil War epic was the first commercially successful feature-length film. Seen today, it is an odd combination of the most delicate sentiment and, in its racism, the most brutal insensibility. Griffith's later films are unquestionably superior. But here, in a very real sense, is where the movies began, both as an art and as a business.
By Dave Kehr