According to Turner, 'culture' is " a dynamic process which produces the behaviors, the practices, the institutions, and the meanings which constitute our social existence. Culture comprises the processes of making sense of our way of life." Film is an artistic revelation of our culture utilized as an art form to present us with a way of conveying meaning to our collective social existence and for purveying messages to allow us not only make sense of our way of life, but to deal with specific issues within that relevant existence. That classifies film as a medium of communication. Once again, Turner notes for us that "when we deal with images, it is especially apparent that we are not only dealing with the object or the concept that they represent, but we are also dealing with the way in which they are represented." It is effusively noted that Hollywood is very quick to re-edit material in order to 'update' films when in actuality the re-editing was done in order to eradicate inflammatory rhetoric or images within story lines to make the films more conformist with the latest in popular opinion. In so doing, the historical value of the films as a communication device allowing them to speak to us of other times is lost they are devalued and their true communication to us is lost.
Thankfully, Birth of a Nation (1915) and Metropolis (1927) are two early film works that have been preserved and allow us to observe them within the arena they were meant to perform. These two films had very interesting audience reactions upon their viewing.
Birth of a Nation is a grand epic exploring the policies of reconstruction offered to the South by the North after the Civil War. To understand this film in a historical context, one must review the history of reconstruction, and the climate of American politics in 1915.
The policies of Reconstruction, while well-intentioned at the extention of rights to Southern blacks rather instead...