Movie Review: “The Birth of a Nation” is a gory portrayal of US slave history
Directed by Nate Parker, Written by Parker and Jean Celestin
Starring: Parker, Aja Naomi King, Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis, Gabrielle Union. At Boston Common, Fenway, Kendall, Coolidge, and suburbs. 110 minutes. R (disturbing violent content, some brief nudity).
“The Birth of a Nation” is an unsympathetic view of America’s slave history and focuses on a bloody rebellion by a black slave, Nat Turner in Virginia in 1831 against whites.
This period race-relation movie, though unfortunately has received some bad publicity due to the rape case against the flick’s director-producer-lead actor, Nate Parker.
Nate Parker was finally acquitted in 2001. The film retains the same title of another movie on race, the 1915 movie, now considered as a movie supporting the views of outlaoed racist group ‘Ku Klux Klan’.
Probably Parker chose the same title to reveal the bloody history of slavery in US.
The film documents the black rebellion that killed about 60 whites, more than 200 blacks also died in retaliation by whites.
The movie shows lot of disturbing images of that era, and they will haunt the viewers even after leaving the screens.
In one scene, a white girl is shown playing with a black girl with a noose around her neck and another scene depicts an entire slave family are lynched and their bodies hung from the branches of oak tree as Nina Simone sings “Strange Fruit.”
Another shocking scene shows, a black protester, who is on a hunger strike is brutally attacked and his teeth taken away by his angry white owner.
“This was our reality and I think it’s important that people recognized that this was an everyday thing and a system that was so strong and so fortified that it corrupted everyone that it touched,” Parker told Reuter agency.
“Slave rebellions happened and there’s a weird sort of washing out of this where I never heard about this story as a kid,” said actor Armie Hammer, who enacted Turner’s slave master.
The movie has been shot in real locations of the uprising d in Savannah, Georgia, and on plantations where the slaves suffered a lot for centuries.
The movie’s cast said they felt really emotional during filming: “You walk on that plantation and it’s immediate, you feel our people, you feel them like they’re sitting right here, you see and feel the pain. It’s like a horror movie except this is reality,” said Gabrielle Union.