Columns Featured Movies Top story

Review: The Birth of a Nation

Current D&D Campaign Adventures - Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Samurai Comics
Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
DriveThruRPG.com
Guild Adept PDFs - Available exclusively @ Dungeon Masters Guild
Springs Hosting
Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis eBooks - Available Now @ DriveThruFiction.com
Mouse Guard - Available Now @ DriveThruComics.com

The Birth of a NationOver 100 years in the making, The Birth of a Nation is writer/director Nate Parker’s in-your-face rebuttal to D.W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 film of the same name; the historic, groundbreaking silent movie that many see as being partially responsible for stifling the liberation of black Americans – with effects that are still being endured today.

Not to make light of the shaky state of current race relations, but I keep going back to a line from singer/songwriter Steve Earle’s song, 21st Century Blues: “Here I am in the 21st century, I have to say it ain’t as cool as I hoped it would be.” In other words, what the hell was – and is – wrong with us when it comes to treating people equally, and with dignity and respect?

Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is powerful, unsettling, and one of the most hard-to-watch films I’ve ever seen. For an aging white dude, it’s not easy to sit there for two hours and be shamed by your forefathers’ actions; but the necessity of seeing this film is in direct proportion to how much shade it throws your way. Although, unfortunately, I’m certain there are those who will never be reached and who will walk away feeling justified in their racist ways, and that’s scary.

This Birth of a Nation is a dramatization of the 1831 uprising of slaves against their Southern captors in Southampton, Va., led by the learned black preacher, Nat Turner. The rebellion led to the deaths of 60 slave owners and the subsequent execution of 200 slaves, many of whom had nothing to do with the insurrection.

The Birth of a NationNate Parker not only wrote, directed and produced this film (his first-feature film effort), he also delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in the demanding role of Nat Turner. The acting here, across the board, is superb, especially Aja Naomi King as Nat Turner’s wife, Cherry; Roger Guenveur Smith as the Turner family’s manservant; and Jackie Earle Haley as an ominous and sinister slave hunter.

The soundtrack and the cinematography of this film are both awesomely on point, with their beauty being in stark contrast to the ugliness of the movie’s historical narrative. From a production standpoint the only issues I have are one or two easily overlooked but awkward edit missteps.

The Birth of a Nation is not for the faint of heart. It’s a film that absolutely should be seen — but, in addition to its uncomfortable subject matter, it is rife with violence, blood and gore. Birth is always painful and that fact is certainly prevalent in this film.

This is a bold, unflinching look at America’s racist past and the sins our nation’s white grandfathers committed during the creation of our country. It’s not pretty, and you will likely leave the theater feeling numb, but until we can acknowledge these atrocities and talk about them, our nation will never truly heal. This is an important movie that you need to see. Grade: 9/10  

Photos © 2016 Fox Searchlight Pictures

A note on the Nate Parker controversy

For those concerned over The Birth of Nation director’s controversies in the news recently: Without defending or chastising the man, please remember that movies are a collaborative art form and there are hundreds of artists and technicians involved in the making of this very important film. They deserve to have their work seen.

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Subscribe for free updates!

Newsletters

View previous campaigns.

Powered by MailChimp

Nerdvana Media will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at news@nerdvanamedia.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

About the author

Avatar

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

Add Comment

Post a comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Samurai Comics
Springs Hosting
free website checkup