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The Mass Media

Film Review: Birth of a Nation Does History Justice


Birth of a Nation won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in January.

“Birth of a Nation” was an amazing movie; a must-see for history buffs as well as the Black community. It was apparent that Nate Parker, the director and co-writer, put his sweat and blood into this movie.

The film premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Later, Fox Searchlight bought the rights for the film for $17.5 million, the largest deal at the film festival to this day.

The movie focuses on the historic American figure Nat Turner, the enslaved preacher who became the leader of the famous slave rebellion on a plantation in Virginia. The film is an emotional roller coaster. Tears were shed, laughs were had, and heads were turned. You could even feel the tension of anger in the air at some points. What made the storyline so amazing was that it was a different kind of slave movie. It really showed the anger of the slaves, and centered around the planning of the rebellion.

The rawness of the film allowed the viewers to see the realities of slavery displayed. The movie showed the spectrum of how cruel some slave masters could get and how some treated the slaves as decently as possible. The movie also showed the inner conflict that slaves faced when it came to their masters. Turner’s slave master, for instance, was a reasonable man, putting him in a difficult position. Turner wanted to stand for his people but also wanted to stay in good graces with his master. That inner battle is a battle that many slaves had to go through.

Knowing the story of Nat Turner, it was a reality check to see the things that people had to do for their freedom. As a Black American, it gave me a sense of pride to know that one of the men that took part in the Antebellum is my ancestor.

Parker used familiar faces for the film. Two he used are Gabrielle Union, a well-known actress in the Black community, and Aja Naomi King, a rising star from the hit show “How to Get Away with Murder.” The only thing I did not like in the movie is that some of the movie felt too much like the book it is based on, which is to be expected.
This film is one that people do not want to miss out on. I will be seeing this movie again when it officially comes out in theaters.