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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6.4/10
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  • Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation (2016)
  • Colman Domingo and Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation (2016)
  • Jason Stuart and Allen Phoenix in The Birth of a Nation (2016)
  • Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation (2016)
  • Colman Domingo and Jason Stuart at an event for The Birth of a Nation (2016)
  • Jason Stuart and Jayson Warner Smith at an event for The Birth of a Nation (2016)

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4 October 2016 | ofumalow
5
| A disappointment
I strongly disapprove of the fact that this movie has gotten a lot of IMDb thumbs-down from people who most likely haven't seen it, but just disapprove of a movie about slavery, as well as one whose director has a problematic past.

However, that's not what I'm writing about here. I DID see the film (at a film festival), and my disappointment is based on the movie itself, not politics or anything else external. "The Birth of a Nation" is about a very important chapter in US history, yet it sanitizes that history to a ridiculous degree. I think most non-blatant-racists can agree that an uprising amongst slaves is a thing that inherently generates empathy. Yet this movie apparently doesn't agree--it needs to sanitize the mental health of Nat Turner (who was on record as saying God directly told him what to do from an early age) as well as pretend women & children weren't chilled in the Turner uprising. I'm not saying these things were justifiable. What I'm saying is that they're part of a complex historical record, and shouldn't have been left out of a movie that purports to tell the "truth." That would be fine if "Birth" were one of many Nat Turner movies out there, but it's the only one most people are likely to see.

It's also a pandering, middle-of-the-road "inspirational" movie, so much less complex a take on slavery than the recent "12 Years a Slave." While that movie was a work of art, this is more like a TV movie in style and content. I just wasn't impressed by it. I wish somebody would make great Nat Turner movie. This isn't it. And sorry, a bad populist telling of the tale isn't better than no telling.

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