Movie Review: The Birth of a Nation (2016)
The Birth of a Nation is an excellent film that was marred by director, writer, producer, and actor Nate Parker’s past. Earlier this year, The Birth of a Nation was considered a frontrunner for an Oscar coming out of the Sundance Film Festival. Now, however, the film had a very weak opening in theaters and is currently available to rent or own on all mediums.
The Birth of a Nation is based on a compelling true story about Nat Turner
Parker’s passion project is about a slave named Nat Turner who has become a preacher amongst the slaves on a plantation in Virginia. He is brought around from plantation to plantation to help calm the other slaves by reciting passages from the bible that appear to condone slavery. Nat turns sour as he witnesses more and more atrocities and rallies other slaves to rebel. Based on a true story that had not appeared on screen before Parker’s rendition. It’s a compelling and engaging film with a bit of heavy handed religious imagery.
Parker is joined by a strong cast with Armie Hammer playing Samuel Turner his master. They are approximately the same age and, by comparison, Samuel Turner is kinder than many of the other masters. However, he still treats humans as property and is still shown to be bad at times. A slave hunter named Raymond Cobb is played by Jackie Earle Haley. He is a great villain in this film and a constant representative of the evils of slavery.
The love story in the film revolves around Nat and Cherry, played by Aja Naomi King. It’s sweet and the chemistry between the two actors is clear. Their story serves as party of the catalyst for Nat’s decision to start the rebellion. The cast performs well and, while the film is definitely made on a budget, there is a lot of quality filmmaking that takes place.
The Birth of a Nation is a film that should probably be seen by more people than it has been. It’s a shame that the artist who made it has tarnished the film. While it’s not perfect and has a few overly artisty moments, like the honeymoon of Nat and Cherry, there is a compelling story inside this film. The Birth of a Nation earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.