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 said to have 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 »
I typically love historical films. Having a bachelors degree in history and an enormous home library consisting of many historical books from all periods in American and World history, I have a fond knack for this particular subject.
Unfortunately 2016's "Birth of A Nation" mostly disappoints. This film feels more like a made for TV movie than a big budget film. The dialogue felt contrived and the movie was plagued with too many clichés. The film also ignores the darker side of the slave rebellion, in which women and children became innocent victims, along with the plantation owners.
Birth of a Nation basically paints Nat Turner has an unquestionable hero, yet the real Nat Turner - if you've ever read any history - probably wouldn't be considered as a hero by the vast majority of modern people, considering some of his questionable actions during the rebellion that left women and children slaughtered.
There wasn't really much of an impact on me by the end of the film, and I think the film mostly fails to give the viewer a clear or unique message. In the end, the film mostly feels like a waste of resources. Historical films should be better than this!
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