The true story of Nat Turner, a slave preacher who
led a slave rebellion in the south in the 1830's.
The Birth of a Nation (2016)
Written and Directed by Nate Parker
Starring Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Colman Domingo,
Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller,
Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior, Gabrielle Union
The Birth of a Nation is a fantastic, eye-opening film that will forever be associated with its filmmaker's criminal past. During the press tour for the film last year, it came to light that writer/director/star Nate Parker was accused of rape in 1999, but was acquitted. Then, in 2012, the woman who accused him committed suicide. Since then, Parker has all but vanished from the limelight and the film that was supposed to be his break into mainstream cinema was cast aside due to its association with real-life controversy. Regardless of your opinion on Nate Parker, it is imperative to separate a filmmaker's life from his work. The movie should not be deemed unwatchable because of Parker and what he may or may not have done. The Birth of a Nation should stand on its own and be judged on its own merits outside of Parker's life. This is the approach I have tried to take with the film.
The Birth of a Nation tells the story of one of American history's earliest rebels, a slave preacher named Nat Turner. In a time when slavery was the norm and African Americans were considered nothing more than a white man's property, Turner sought to avenge his people and led a slave rebellion in the south. Unfortunately, the rebellion was stopped in less than two days and everybody involved was hanged. Turner's body was destroyed so he couldn't become a martyr. It's a serious black mark on our nation's history and Parker did his best to tell the man's story in a time when society needs to remember history's heroes. The performances are all stellar and the film's graphic, no holds barred approach to slavery adds a gruesome sense of realism.
This film has been ignored since its release, and it's time that it get to shine. It's a great biopic that brings tears to your eyes with almost every scene. Slavery is a horrible nightmare that was allowed to endure in this country for several hundred years, and now the descendants of slaves and slave-owners have to live with that. Films like The Birth of a Nation provide a brief glimpse into a time long since passed, and allow all of us a reminder of how far we've come as human beings.