Movie Review – Birth of a Nation

Birth of a Nation is a creation by Director/Actor Nate Parker telling the story of Nat Turner, slave, preacher and rebellion leader who revolted against slavery in a time when black resistance  was feared, ignored, and unheard of. The name is a play on the original Birth of a Nation (1915) a movie depicting the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the dangers of the integration of blacks, specifically black men, in white America.

The movie itself is approximately two hours with a significant portion of back story. This is a slight set back; however, it must be noted that Nat Turner’s actual rebellion lasted 48 hours. The movie is a bit darker than most slave movies such as the most recent and popular slave movie, 12 Years a Slave (2013). Birth of a Nation and the Nat Turner rebellion flies contrary to the common misunderstanding of blacks being mostly docile in the fight against slavery. Much of the movie centers around the conditions that lead to the realization of the role of religion in the slavery movement and the necessity to fight back. The movie, however, maintains much of its independent-feel likening to a Django meets 12 Years a Slave.


What has to be discussed is the controversy surrounding the director himself which lead to many calling to boycott the movie. Nate Parker was charged in 1999 with the rape of a fellow classmate. Nate Parker was acquitted of these charges; however, unfortunately the defendant killed herself a few years later.

The rape case from 1999 was introduced to the public a few months before the release of the movie. What had been an extremely successful and record breaking movie attracting $17.5 million dollars from FOX Searchlight seemed to be unable to overcome the director’s personal past. The movie is said to have “flopped” based on low box office performance grossing approximately $7.1 million.

OPINION: Birth of a Nation is a PHENOMENAL movie. Despite many boycotting the movie’s release, Nate Parker’s movie accomplished it’s mission of providing a new narrative for the youth. Nat Turner’s story is one least told given the leader’s violent and merciless rebellion killing 60 members of slave holding families. These deaths were met with the death of at least 100 slaves and the public hanging of Nat Turner. Some have called into question the timing of the rape allegations with the movie’s release. The movie itself comes at a crossroad of political activity: the 2016 Presidential Election, Black Lives Matter and the seemingly continuous police killings of unarmed people, especially and specifically black men and women, and Colin Kaepernick’s movement of refusing to stand up for the American flag as it begins to take an economic toll on the NFL. It also must be noted that this comes after Nate Parker has appeared in 19 movies since 2005 with the greatest and possibly most well-known, The Great Debaters (2007), appearing with no public discussion of these charges.



Have you seen it? What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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