Bron Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Follow Through Productions,
Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller, Gabrielle Union, Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo, Dwight Henry, Roger Guenveur Smith, Mark Boone Junior, Esther Scott
The Birth of a Nation is the story of a real character, Nat Turner (Nate Parker) who as a child was found to be an educated fellow who could read and write, even though raised as a slave on a plantation. Nat became a preacher, and was paid to preach to the other slaves to convince them to work hard and listen to their masters to avoid trouble. But after events that turned Nat into a rebel that hated the treatment of his people in the south and caused him to start a bloody uprising that killed scores of white men, women, and children, until a battalion caught up with him and his men and they were all brought to pay for their rebellion. Based on a true character, this is harsh look at the terrible treatment of slaves and former slaves that occurred in the South in 1831 before the Civil war.
This was an interesting film, that is difficult to criticize without casting a very dim light on yourself. First let me say that the brutality and abuse that did occur was very horrible and unexcused, but I’m not sure that this is a completely accurate vision of what in particular happened this time. Historically Nat Turner did head a bloody uprising 1n 1831, but he was despised both in the North and the South due to the killing of little children and women along with the true slave masters. This film certainly does take one side of the story and makes a very shocking story that may be quite a bit embellished as to what really happened in this instance. Nate Parker, who plays Nat Turner, wrote the screenplay and the story and directed the film besides being the primary actor in it. It has a rather weird vibe to it. Though it’s obvious a brand new film, the style and feel of the movie made you think you were watching one of the old 70’s movies, just by the look of it. It wasn’t really very well put together, and it seems to suffer a bit from one guy having to do everything. Perhaps a bigger team would have helped. Still, it’s very touching and moves you to the core, but I’m not sure if we’re being played or if there’s really much truth to this one particular character and his portrayal historically. Likewise, the title, The Birth of a Nation is a political and racial hot button due the to D.W. Griffith 1915 film about the death of Lincoln and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan which is unfortunately a racist white supremacist one sided film that was certainly made to excuse the Klan, make them heroes, and appeal to the racists that existed, and to create many more of them. Now 1915 was a long time ago, but it seemed to be created to stir people up and tell a very incorrect and lopsided tale of who were the heroes and who were the villains. This film, was most likely given the same title to invoke some of the hatred toward the original film and start people off with a particular point of view. I don’t really think this movie is very fairly told either, as I doubt the true character of Nat Turner was really presented here. It was a really flat one sided portrait that simply appears to fire people up to protest. It doesn’t feel like a historical analysis or a documentary, but a one sided attack with no effort to show any balance. Now I can understand how this could happen, as it is a very touchy subject, and one that we really have to deal with in a rational manner. I just feel like this is throwing gasoline on a house fire and doesn’t serve a really good purpose other than to promote hatred. It’s a shame, as I certainly have seen other films that depicted the horrors that happened through a lot of the South at the time, and as a child of the 50’s I’ve seen it in person and on TV and in people I actually know. It’s an ugly thing to judge someone by the color of his skin, but it’s ugly either way, and we need to come together, not try to drive a wedge in to stir up the radicals and make them develop more hatred. With all that’s going on in our nation these days, it’s hard to tell what it all means. Maybe my own fear of being labeled is causing me to feel uncomfortable at this portrayal, and I really wish I had the opportunity to see Nate Parker and find out if he really hates me because of my skin color, or if he’s actually a really nice person who would like to talk to me as well. I would hate to prejudge that, but going by what I see in this film, I don’t think he’d like me very much. Most all ‘isms suck, but racism is one of the worst. In summary, I’m glad I saw it, but I’m just not sure how to react to what I saw.
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