Friday, October 7, 2016

Movie Review: The Birth of a Nation


Stories about slaves during and before the Civil War are hard to watch; when it's a true story, it adds that much more of a bite to it. The Birth of a Nation is a true story.

Nat Turner (Nate Parker) grows up as a slave in the Turner household, so when he becomes an adult, his (white) childhood friend, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), is now his owner. Samuel's mother, Elizabeth (Penelope Ann Miller), educates Nat on the Bible while he's a child, as Nat can read, but once Elizabeth's husband passes away, she turns him out to work in the fields, saying that that's what her husband wanted. Nat starts to get increasingly disturbed with what he sees around him in his daily life, and with his life itself, and eventually this leads to an insurrection.

The cast in this movie was fantastic, especially Parker as Nat Turner, Hammer as Samuel Turner, and Aja Naomi King (How to Get Away with Murder) as Cherry, who eventually becomes Nat's wife. Gabrielle Union, Aunjanue Ellis (The Help), and Esther Scott are also very good here, in supporting roles. I will say this movie has a lot of controversy surrounding it, too, due to an incident that occurred when Nate Parker was in college; I've read a bit about it, and if you'd like to read about it, I've found this article is a good place to start.

Yes, see this movie. It was a lot bloodier than I expected it to be, but overall the film was very good, due to its performances and the plot. This film reminded me a bit of 12 Years a Slave, which came out in October 2013, but it differs from that movie in certain ways as well. The only reason this movie doesn't get 5/5 stars from me is that it was a little slow in spots, and I found myself checking my watch; otherwise, it's a good way to learn about this period in history, specifically about Nat Turner, and I'd recommend it for those who like historical films.

The Birth of a Nation is in theaters today, October 7th, and is rated R with a runtime of 120 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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