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THE SILENT SCREEN – Richard Dyer MacCann

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THE SILENT SCREEN – Richard Dyer MacCannD.W. Griffith, internationally known movie director and producer, greets the press in this 1922 photo before sailing for Europe. (AP Photo) THE SILENT SCREEN – Richard Dyer MacCann Essays in honor of American executives, directors, stars, comedians and films, 1896-1926 The Birth of a Nation was unquestionably the greatest and most influential film ever made up to 1915. In it D.W. Griffith brought to bear everything he had learned of dramatic and cinematic art, and that was what made the message so power- ful. But art is not innocent, and criticism is not confined to style. To treat this motion picture, in the classroom or any- where else, simply as an expression of cinematic skills is to ignore the vital difference between those arts which are abstract (like music) or nontemporal (like painting), and those which, like literature and drama, act out human relationships and social implications. Film criticism that pretends to be “purely aesthetic”…