The site of the Oscars has long included visual references to famous films, but the new owners of Hollywood & Highland are removing the elephants from Intolerance by D.W. Griffith, whose Birth of a Nation led to the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.
Via Yahoo! Finance:
Crews on Thursday night began dismantling two giant white fiberglass elephants, which are part of the complex’s tribute to the Babylon set of D.W. Griffith’s 1916 movie “Intolerance.” All of the faux Mesopotamian elements will be taken out or altered in favor of a design developers hope will be more timeless as part of a $100-million makeover of the mall announced last year that is set for completion next summer.
The late, great Roger Ebert explained Griffith’s central role in film’s legacy of racism:
Griffith and “The Birth of a Nation” were no more enlightened than the America which produced them. The film represents how racist a white American could be in 1915 without realizing he was racist at all. That is worth knowing. Blacks already knew that, had known it for a long time, witnessed it painfully again every day, but “The Birth of a Nation” demonstrated it in clear view, and the importance of the film includes the clarity of its demonstration. That it is a mirror of its time is, sadly, one of its values.
To understand “The Birth of a Nation” we must first understand the difference between what we bring to the film, and what the film brings to us. All serious moviegoers must sooner or later arrive at a point where they see a film for what it is, and not simply for what they feel about it. “The Birth of a Nation” is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like [Leni] Riefenstahl’s “The Triumph of the Will,” it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil.
Onward and upward!
Image: Andrea James