Revolutions don’t happen overnight. There are many stories about the Civil War, but The Birth of a Nation tells of Nat Turner, a slave who rose up against oppression years before the fighting began.
In this retelling of Nat Turner’s life, Nate Parker delivers a performance that’s full of heart. From moments of joy to tears of heartache, we see every range of emotion that grabs hold of you and keeps you close. The rest of the cast is equally excellent, particularly Armie Hammer as Nat’s owner, Samuel Turner. He balances humanity and evil, sometimes in the same scene, and it’s truly chilling.
The rest of the cast are all people you have seen in many other roles. They each commit and bring a level of heart that’s unmatched. There are also several scenes that are so graphic, I almost looked away and it must have been very difficult for everyone involved.[SPOILER] My biggest issue with the film was Nat’s sudden discovery of the teachings of the bible and their hypocrisy. This is a man who has studied the bible for years and years, and all of a sudden he realizes this? And why doesn’t it cause him to revolt against it? [END SPOILER]
I remember learning about The Birth of a Nation (1919) in a college film class. There’s no denying that it broke new ground, but the subject matter and story were undeniably racist and bigoted. Make sure you watch 13th, on Netflix now, as it gives some insight.
The controversy surrounding Nate Parker, the director, co-writer, producer, and star, has been overshadowing his film, but years in the future, it’s the film itself that will stand. Although it’s disjointed, the core story is very important and one that deserves to be told.