D.W. Griffith is often cited as the father of film. In the early days of cinema, Griffith pioneered multiple techniques and pushed the art of narrative film in a whole new direction.

From 1908 to the early 30s, Griffith directed a staggering 520 films including Lady Helen’s Escapade (1909), The Birth of a Nation (1915), and Way Down East (1920), as well as his last feature, The Struggle (1931).

In 1919, Griffith founded the United Artists together with Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. Aside from his outstanding technical contributions to the art of filmmaking, the United Artists is one of Griffith’s legacies that continues to provide entertainment to the global audience even up to this day.

In fact, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased the studio in 1981 for a whopping amount of $350 million which is equivalent to $1 billion today. To honor his great contribution to Hollywood, a school in the city of Los Angeles was named D. W. Griffith Middle School to pay homage to the brilliant director.

In this quote article we’ll be sharing 20 of our favorite D.W. Griffith quotes on filmmaking and cinema. After reading the article check out YouTube and watch some of the legendary filmmakers movies.


D.W. Griffith Quotes

The task I’m trying to achieve, above all, is to make you see.

A film without a message is just a waste of time.

Being a film director involves, above all, a lot of hard work and resolve and determination. The glamour doesn’t come until the premiere and the thing is all long done.

I foresee no possibility of venturing into themes showing a closer view of reality for a long time to come. The public itself will not have it. What it wants is a gun and a girl.

Actors should never be important. Only directors should have power and place.

I pick out young people and teach them in less time than it would take me to alter the methods of people from the boards, and I get actors who look the parts they have to fill.

It takes two years on the stage for an actor or an actress to learn how to speak correctly and to manage his voice properly, and it takes about ten years to master the subtle art of being able to hold one’s audience.

[on James Mason] That Mason is the greatest actor.

I am fond of depicting the lives of young folks for one thing, and if you have parts for girls or young men, you must absolutely have young people to fill them – that is generally acknowledged now.

[on what people associated with silent films] The good old American faculty of wanting to be shown things.

Remember how small the world was before I came along? I brought it all to life: I moved the whole world onto a 20-foot screen.

A Corner in Wheat. 1909. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Silent, approx. 15 min.

When I work for someone else, I always make money for them. When I back my own ideas, I am bound to lose.

Viewed as drama, the War is somewhat disappointing.

Movies are written in sand: applauded today, forgotten tomorrow.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? What art? What science?

We do not want now and we never shall want the human voice with our films. Music — fine music — will always be the voice of the silent drama.

[early quote] There will never be talking pictures.

[later on sound movies] It is my arrogant belief that we have lost beauty.

Talkies, squeakies, moanies, songies, squawkies… Just give them ten years to develop and you’re going to see the greatest artistic medium the world has known.

In the year 2024 the most important single thing which the cinema will have helped in a large way to accomplish will be that of eliminating from the face of the civilised world all armed conflict. Pictures will be the most powerful factor in bringing about this condition. With the use of the universal language of moving pictures the true meaning of the brotherhood of man will have been established throughout the earth.

[D.W. Griffth on forseeing the impact of news television]

We had many worries in those days, small worries. Now you people have your worries and they are big ones. They have grown with the business – and no matter what its problems, it’s the greatest business in the world.

D.W. Griffith on being honored at the 1935 Academy Awards ceremony

Recommended D.W. Griffith Video

Check out this free documentary to learn more about Griffith’s work and his influence on cinema.


D.W. Griffith Quotes Final Words

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Looking for more filmmaking quotes from pioneering filmmakers then check out the film director quote article section of the website for inspirational quotes from the likes of Kubrick, Bergman, Kurosawa, Ford and more.

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