The Birth of a Nation (2016)

R   |    |  Biography, Drama, History

The Birth of a Nation (2016) Poster

Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising.


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25 February 2017 | Ryan_Aldworth
| The Birth of a Nation
Birth of a Nation is Nate Parker's directorial debut and I was initially sceptical about watching this film after the harsh criticism it received and the controversy around the portrayal of the events. The best way to describe this one for anybody that is not aware of the plot is "Django Unchained" meets "12 Years a Slave" although toned down slightly in budget and quality of direction. I loved this film a lot and the vision and passion that Nate Parker conveys with the script is unparalleled. Something that I was very concerned about with this film is whether or not it would fall into the trap of "The Free State of Jones" because many audiences complained that it was too long and boring however this film is consistently interesting and thought provoking from start to finish. Unfortunately, the editing throughout felt extremely rushed. It was almost as if they were scared to leave the camera on a character too long in case the audience lost interest and the editing is overall very sloppy which is one of the major flaws with the picture. I would have loved to see them take their time with the shots and extend the film to the 160 – 170-minute mark to allow for further character development but I understand why they didn't because of the hatred that previous similar films received. For the first hour of the film, it wasn't very emotionally captivating and I struggled to relate to the characters a lot. The film also loses its footing and trips over common clichés within the biographical war drama/ period piece films which takes away some of the innovation presented by the mostly superb cinematography. The characters should have been given more freedom to traverse the world as they often felt detached from the setting and environment of the film due to a lack of interaction. The film also features some very thought provoking metaphorical imagery although it often feels very forced and doesn't blend well with the structure of the narrative. An additional flaw with the film was that I felt that Nate Parker was trying way too hard in this role and was seriously desperate for acting recognition. That's perfectly understandable as this is his directorial debut although he has often quite obviously constructed scenes that allow him to stand out and seem the superior actor in relation to the rest of the cast. Moving away from criticisms on the film, what I thought it did really well was to eliminate the stigma surrounding historical settings in the film industry today where average movie goers often associate historical events as boring and tedious and I honestly can't imagine anybody being genuinely bored at this film. It just moves so fast and the events are truly brutal and relentless. Some of the scenes in this film are excruciatingly hard to watch and the film isn't scared to push the boundaries of the "15" certification. This really worked to its advantage to show the horrifying events although some viewers will be turned off by the onslaught of violence and torture. The personal peak of the film for me was the score. So expertly chosen to reflect the actions on screen and breathe life into scenes that are otherwise quite bland. The music really worked for me and there wasn't too much to the point where it felt like a music video much like other titles this year (Suicide Squad). The gore and injury detail is so well realised, absolutely horrific and shocking leaving some scenes cemented into audiences minds for days after watching the film. There was a singular scene towards the end of the film that absolutely floored me with its gruelling depiction of violence and rebellion which was followed by an uplifting and inspiring resolution and overall this film gave me way more than I could have hoped for or was expecting. The Birth of a Nation – 7.8/10

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Release Date:

7 October 2016



Country of Origin

USA, Canada

Filming Locations

Savannah, Georgia, USA

Box Office


$8,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,004,254 9 October 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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