Edwin S. Porter
No director is more identified with early film than D.W. Griffith. A consummate artist and visionary, his legacy is tainted by the blatant racism of Birth of a Nation. a film credited with reinvigorating the Ku Klux Klan from 1916 to the late 1920s. Griffith’s movies brought the world the first major film stars—including Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford. He used brilliant techniques, like cross cutting battle scenes with scenes of mourning women in Birth of a Nation. Way Down East, a consummate Victorian morality tale had action scenes of Lillian Gish on an ice floe—a risky proposition, especially since he did not use a soundstage or special effects. This iconic scene influenced a generation of filmmakers, especially in the UFA school. Finally, Intolerance with it’s epic set showing four separate historic scenes of intolerance is still revered by many as the greatest film of all time.