AALBC.com LogoCopyright © 1997-2017, All Rights Reserved — https://aalbc.com — troy@aalbc.com — Tel: 347-692-2522

The Birth of a Nation
Film Reviewed by Kam Williams (Published: October 3, 2016)

share on facebook share on twitter share on Google+ Pinterest Icon

Reverential Biopic Revisits Life of Infamous Slave Revolt Leader


The Birth of a Nation movie posterExcellent (4 stars)


In Theaters: October 7, 2016 Wide
Rated R for brief nudity and disturbing violence
Running time: 120 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Nat Turner (Nate Parker) was born into slavery on October 2, 1800 on a sprawling plantation located in Southampton County, Virginia. There, as a precocious child, he exhibited a thirst for knowledge at an early age and learned to read The Bible with the help of his masters, Samuel (Armie Hammer) and Elizabeth Turner (Penelope Ann Miller). The couple simultaneously shielded him from the brutality of the evil institution by granting him the privilege of living and working in the mansion rather than having to toil in the cotton fields alongside his mother (Aunjanue Ellis) and grandmother (Esther Scott).

Nat grew up a deeply-religious boy, and was turned into a traveling preacher tasked with spreading the word of God to fellow slaves from neighboring towns. In that capacity, his job was to keep the masses of oppressed African-Americans content with their miserable lot in life by reciting scriptural passages like &ldquot;Submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

However, the more he witnessed the atrocities associated with slavery, the more outraged he became. And by the time he reached adulthood, he'd not only become convinced that it was evil, but he'd started surreptitiously quoting Biblical verses supporting that conclusion, such as “Do not become slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)

Nat subsequently had a miraculous vision in which he was directly ordered by God to set his people free. That transformative moment would serve as the inspiration for a bloody insurrection which would begin with the slaying of his masters and ultimately claim about 60 more white slave owner lives.

The Birth of a Nation

All of the above is graphically depicted in The Birth of a Nation, a reverential biopic marking the impressive directorial debut of Nate Parker (The Great Debaters). Nate also co-wrote the script and stars here, as Nat Turner, in a revisionist period piece which effectively recasts as a hero an infamous slave revolt leader previously denigrated by history because of his resort to violence.

This compelling drama landed both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and had emerged as the prohibitive Best Picture Academy Award favorite until buzz about Mr. Parker’s having been accused of rape while in college went viral across the blogosphere. Nevertheless, judging The Birth of a Nation strictly on the merits, it undeniably deserved its previous status as a prime Oscar contender.

An emotionally-unsettling alternate version of a controversial chapter of America’s slave legacy!

Read Our October 4, 2016 interview with Nate Parker

Read “Nat Turner’s Mental and Military Motivations” by Ezrah Aharone


Black Power Line

Read More AALBC.com Film Reviews








Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century
African Men You Should Read 25 African Male Writers You Should Read
AALBC.com Bestselling Book Seal

Printed: August 22, 2017, 10:23 pm
☆ Mission
To Celebrate Black Culture Through Literature and Literary Nonfiction to Readers of all Backgrounds and Ages; and Advocate for Independent Media

☥ About Us
Started in 1997, AALBC.com (African American Literature Book Club) is the largest, most frequently visited web site of its kind. More
Customer Service
Advertising Rates
Advertiser Login
Contact Us – FAQ
Give Us Feedback
AALBC on Pinterest AALBC on Facebook AALBC on Twitter
AALBC RSS Feed AALBC on Youtube Email AALBC