D. W. Griffith

David Wark Griffith Lewelyn (often only DW Griffith, born January 22, 1875 in La Grange, Kentucky; † July 23, 1948 in Hollywood, California ) was an American actor, director and film producer. He turned 535 films, of which more than 400 are still preserved.

Griffith is regarded by many as the founder of narrative cinema and as the creator of " cinematic grammar ". In fact, he has less self- invented, rather than systematic. As one of the first he has during his time with the film company Biograph ( 1908-1913 ) elements such as close-up, parallel montage and many other consistently applied and perfected later in his pioneering feature films.


Griffith began in 1908 as an actor in Rescued from an Eagle 's Nest by James Searle Dawley and had in the same year his debut as a director with The Adventures of Dollie.

Film is a technical milestone of the medium, at the same time but also an example: For his 1915 finished, three -hour film The Birth of a Nation about the American Civil War, in which he clearly takes the side of the south and the Ku Klux Klan glorified, Griffith was later criticized vehemently for an extremely distorted view of the "facts" of the American Civil War. The film is based on the well -racist novel The Clansman (1905 ) by Thomas Dixon ( 1864-1946 ). The Birth of a Nation was the hitherto most expensive film in history. It cost around 110,000 dollars and played until 1932 in the U.S. alone $ 3,000,000 a.

This brought out in the following year work intolerance, however, was a financial disaster. With this even more ambitious and even more expensive film Griffith wanted to show how intolerance has always determines human destiny. Using parallel and contrast montages described Griffith four episodes - the fall of Babylon, the Passion of Christ, Saint Bartholomew and the contemporary story "The Mother and the Law". Today intolerance is considered one of the best movies in film history.

In 1919 Griffith together with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks sen. Charles Chaplin and the film company United Artists. But already in 1924, Griffith retired from the company.

His working with actors in Broken Blossoms of 1919 is praised by the critics for some financially less successful works back up. After the failure of his film The fight he retired in 1931 back from the film business. In 1936 he received an honorary Oscar for his life's work. In 1940 he attempted a comeback with the adventure film Tumak, the lord of the jungle (One Million BC ), but after an argument with producer Hal Roach, he left the director's chair. The film was made ​​by Roach himself to the end.

Griffith 's discoverer and promoter of actresses Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish in particular, the life adored him.

Films (selection )