Set against the antebellum South, THE BIRTH OF A NATION follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
This movie deliberately shares its title with D.W. Griffith's 1915 movie The Birth of a Nation (1915). That film, an adaptation of Thomas Dixon Jr.'s 1902-1905 pro-Klan novels The Leopard's Spots and The Clansman, was a runaway critical, commercial, and cultural success. President Woodrow Wilson, who screened it in the White House, was falsely claimed to have had declared that it was "like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." It was also the subject of protests against its virulently racist view of African Americans. Historians see the movie as a major impetus for the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and a concomitant rise in lynchings and other racist violence during the early part of the 1900s. Protesting the film's racist views was an early action for the then-young NAACP. Long into the twentieth century, mainstream, mostly white cinema scholars continued to praise the film as a landmark technical achievement in the history of motion pictures, while minimizing or ignoring altogether its racist message. Spike Lee was so outraged that his NYU Film School professors taught The Birth of a Nation (1915) with no mention of its racist message or legacy that he made a student short film titled The Answer (1980) as a response. The film so offended many of his professors that Lee was nearly expelled from NYU. He was ultimately saved by a faculty vote. See more »
At about 25 minutes in you can see Nat Turner patching a hole in the corner of the house. He gets distracted without finishing by the new slave being introduced to the masters wife as a gift and the camera is panned towards the front door. When it goes back to showing him you can see the hole still isn't filled but is nearly compared to how he left it. Then the camera cuts in on a closer shot and the hole is completely filled/covered before we see Nat do a swipe down with his scraper. See more »
[after Nat watches a horrific scene between a slave and slave owner and has to preach to the slaves]
Brethren, I pray you'll sing to the Lord, a new song. Sing praise in assembly of the righteous. Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praise of God be on the mouths of the saints and a two-edged sword in their hand to execute vengeance on the demonic nations! And punishment on those peoples! To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fens ...
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The rebellion that was forgotten will now be remembered forever.
I had the opportunity to watch this film at Sundance this year and after the screening Nate Parker gave a speech that I will never forget.
I didn't learn about the Nat Turner Rebellion until I was in college and hearing that there was going to be a film was very exciting. I was 22 and learning about Nat Turner. 22 years on this earth without knowing about a man's ability to fight back for his life and the lives of everyone he knew.
This movie is about standing up against what's wrong and through his incredible performance, Nate Parker tells that story with passion and determination.
The film brought the realities of Nat Turner's life-time to life. You aren't watching a movie about Nat Turner, but rather, you are watching Nat Turner himself live the excruciating pain and tragedy of the south during the early 1800s. This movie represents our countries beginnings and the title is a reference to the infamous film made in 1915. 100 years later and we have made progress, but our country still has a long way to go.
What I enjoyed most about this movie was the message that Nate Parker wants you to walk away with. During his speech after the screening he said, "This film tells the fatalist to sit down, and the optimist to stand up." For those of you that aren't aware, Fatalism is "the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do."
So stop being the fatalist. Stand up and go make a change in this world.
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