Biography of David Wark Griffith (1875-1948)

Director and producer of American cinema born in LaGrange (Kentucky, United States), on January 22, 1875, and died in Hollywood (California, United States), on July 21, 1948.


Various problems obilgaron the family to move to Louisville, where very young began working in the world of journalism and literature, this land which led him to amateur and professional theatrical environments getting started as an actor in all the assemblies that it was possible in companies as Meffert Stock Co. or Ada Gray's Company. Soon he traveled in New York City that spent difficult moments before finding entity roles. With any company (the Melbourne Mac Dowell Company, Nance or O'Neill' s Touring Stock Co., etc.) made tours of several cities.

No doubt, all the baggage accumulated over these years (1895-1904) allowed him to have dramatic and space resources that knew how to make at the time. Without very clear as it was going to be their future, a few years moved on absolute economic and professional insecurity unsuccessfully that his stories and plays would guarantee you a minimum strength to survive in the theatrical world. In 1907 to Edwin S. Porter you opportunity to debut in film as an actor, gesture that led him to prefer, from then on, this new medium, which initially had put all kinds of objections.

Thirty-three years, before the end of the first decade of the 20th century, Griffith went to work at the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. as a director and screenwriter, task that assumes not without weighing the potential risks. His first film was a melodrama, the adventures of Dorothy (1908), film which was a major success. This circumstance, in addition to the corporate strength and the ability of the director for choosing topics of interest to the public, allowed his career to reach some unsuspected dimensions. He did not stop directing films, many of them adaptations of works by Jack London, Charles Dickens - who always said how much he had learned from the structure of his works-, Victor Hugo or Edgar Allan Poe.

His prolific work did not mean that it should be limited to carrying out projects without any interest. Undoubtedly unique, simple but effective contributions to the development of the story can be seen in every one of his movies. Griffith had been expressing his interest for give a dramatic and emotional intention to images; so he never dismissed the possibility of manipulating its continuity, and not only referred to the action but, also, the size of the plane. Here is where Griffith confirmed his ability as a director to take advantage of the contributions of other pioneers - Méliès, Porter, etc.. Far from keeping the action of a continuous and conventional, he wished to propose a new model that stirring the Viewer, which make him more participatory. On an elaborated the planning and installation of parallel actions, used the continuity of action from the glance and the movement of the characters, giving a high profile to the out field, that is, to everything that is not in the picture, but that suggests to the viewer that that space is there and that it has to do with what is happening on screen.

As well, without interruption, and staying hidden under all pseudonyms - Griffith would sign his career as Granville Hicks, Irene Sinclair, Roy Sinclair and Gaston de Tolignac, among others-, they followed films like for the love of gold (1908), after many years (1908), telephone (1909) and a corner in the wheat fields (1909), among other. These productions were developed in New York, but in 1911 Griffith decides to move his team to California to be able to roll over the months coldest year.

Precisely at this time, Griffith will give one step further in his career, at the beginning of the filming of movies of two coils, which confirmed their desire to tackle more complex stories. This decision was not well received in principle by his company and by the exhibitors, who were disrupting their approaches. However, from Enoch Arden (1911), the movie industry is necessary this advance which, in reality, will bring more problems to the director than for producers, since you need to enter new narrative elements to give greater dynamism to the action, made that not only can be seen in the interior of the dramatic structure, but also incorporates the freedom that is going to the cameraless static and theatrical as to date, contributions that can be seen in films such as La matanza (1912) or the unseen enemy (1912), among others.

There are years in which the Italian cinema is going strong, with a good number of productions that already point to the film (Cabiria or Quo Vadis? can serve as example) and, especially, towards the cinema show through real and unconscionable blockbuster movies seeking to trap the viewer through deployment of human and material resources unparalleled. Without waiting longer Griffith filmed heart of mother (1913) or Judith of Bethulia (1914), among others, as productions of more relief and risk, combining those models coming to American screens from Great Britain, Italy or France.

Desire to Griffith have enough freedom to address major efforts decided him to abandon the Biograph and sign for the Mutual Film Corporation and other smaller companies that relied on this. He directed and oversaw numerous projects before undertaking what would be his most representative of this decade work, the birth of a nation (1915), very long film that summed up his knowledge about the industry and the cinematographic creation. This film is all an artistic monument and remains one of the indisputable pillars of the history of cinema. All the analysis that can be made of the film not only part of the argument - adaptation of the novel by the Reverend Thomas Dixon "The Clansman", by which the director was labeled racist - but, basically, by the conception of cinematographic time and space, and singular style that prints to the scenes and sequences, prolific in narrative and expressive resources which have so far had not been combined so effectively creative. Production that was presented as a challenge and much more as an economic risk, turned out to be a huge success for a long time.

Griffith, however, never thought that he had reached his creative ceiling. That's why, with all winnings, embarked on an amazing project that entitled intolerance (1916), a mosaic of original bets that structured on four stories - a modern, another about the fall of Babylon, the story in the time of Christ and the massacre of the Huguenots the day of San Bartolomé in times of Catherine de Médicis - and to go combining on the temporal evolution of the films to converge at the end of the same. However, a visually interesting result, with attractive and innovative contributions, was not enough to make the film a success; the failure of the same meant the bankruptcy of Griffith and the loss of his creative independence.

From this date the Triangle Film Corporation company, which he had founded with Mack Sennett and Thomas H. Ince, crumbles and turns in another, United Artists, with which it tries to continue to find distribution for their work, counting as partners to the likes of Charles Chaplin, Mary Pikcford and Douglas Fairbanks. It is one of their most creatively interesting stages, with films like hearts of the world (1918), the two orphans (1918), broken lilies (1919) or the two storms (1920), works with a mastery of the storytelling, the direction of actors and an expressive Visual resource management - composition, light, scenery, etc.-which were taken by other many American and European directors in the following years. However, good acceptance of these films did not give economic stability to Griffith, whom the industry - also absorb him completely - would soon recognize him for all he had done for the world of the cinema.Although it will continue directing films - her first sound film was Abraham Lincoln (1930) - each new title is a step back in expectations of a solid career that will wane every year, until he decides to give it in 1936, when working in San Francisco, terminated production in which it appears not accredited.

Without a doubt, David W. Griffith, although it should not be considered as the "father" of the cinematic language, Yes must be taken into account as one of the indisputable pillars of cinema and one of the most important names in its history.


From 1908 until 1913 Griffith directed 445 films of one or two coils, which in large part is also screenwriter; among them are mentioned:

1908: the adventures of Dorothy; The man and the woman; Romance of a Jewish; The Helping Hand.1909: Mamma; The conscience of a thief; A Rural Elopement; The Girls and Daddy; The Prussian Spy; The Road to the Heart; The French Duel; The violinist of Cremona; The phone; The sacrifice of a convict; In old Kentucky; The awakening; Crazy luck; Sweet revenge; A corner of the trigales.1910: in the shadow of the cloister; His last robbery; The thread of fate; It is not gold that glitters; The romance of the Western hills; Love among the Roses; Ramona; War without quarter; Little Angels of Luck.1911: the Italian Barber; Three sisters; The lily of the streets; Gypsy blood; Reasons for win; Enoch Arden; The last drop of water; The man who returned; Love in the Hills.1912: A spot in the shield; The promise of india; A Tale of the Wilderness; For His Son; The Goddess of Sagebrush Gulch; Sands of Dee; The invisible enemy; The painted Lady; The Musketters of Pig Alley; The Informer; The Burglar completo Dilemma.

Complete filmography from 1913, period in which films already have two or more coils of duration:

1913: Waifs; The Switch Tower; The Stolen Bride; OLAF-An Atom; The Mirror; Mother Love; The Conscience of Hassan Bey; The Telephone Girl and the Lady; Three Friends; Pirate Gold; An Adventure in the Autumn Woods; To Turkey Misappropiated; The Tender Hearted Boy (uncredited); Brothers; Oil steam; Drink completo Lure; The killing; A Chance Deception; Broken Ways; Love in an Apartment Hotel; The Unwelcome Guest; To Girl completo Stratagem (uncredited); Victims of fate; Near to Earth; The son of the sheriff; A Welcome Intruder; The Perfidy of Mary; The Hero of Little Italy; A Misunderstood Boy; The Little Tease; The Lady and the Mouse; The left-handed Man; The Wanderer; If We Only Knew (uncredited); The House of Darkness; The Stolen Loaf (uncredited); Just Gold; The Yaqui Cur; The Ranchero's Revenge; His Mother's are; In the field of death; A Timely Interception; Indian mother's heart; Mother's love; The Sorrowful Shore; The Mistake; The Enemy's Baby; During the Round-Up; The Coming of Angelo; The League against wine; An Indian completo Loyalty; Two men in the desert; A Woman in the Ultimate (uncredited); A modest Hero (uncredited); So Run the Way (uncredited); Madonna of the Storm (uncredited). 1914: Judith of Bethulia; The battle of Elderbush Gulch; The battle of the sexes; the life of primitive man; Sweet Home; Evasion; Vengadora.1915 awareness: the birth of a nation (and screenwriter, producer and composer). 1916: intolerance (and screenwriter, producer, composer, costume design and editor). 1918: hearts of the world; The great love; The greatest thing in the vida.1919: the guilt of others; A separate romance; On the ruins of the world; Poor love; The Fall of Babylon; The Mother and the Law; Red days; More problema.1920: The Idol Dancer; Flower of love; The two storms; The street of the suenos.1921: the two huerfanas.1922: one misteriosa.1923 night: flower that renace.1924: America; the dawn of the dicha.1925: Sally, the daughter of the circus; Crime and castigo.1926: the sorrows of satan.1928: his greatest victory; The battle of the sexos.1929: the melody of the amor.1930: Abraham Lincoln.1931: The Struggle.1936: San Francisco (uncredited).

Between 1909 and 1921 Griffith also oversaw many films at the stage of his production company Triangle, as well as being a producer, screenwriter, script writer and actor from others many, both own and alien.


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