Review of the controversial slave uprising drama written, directed and starring Nate Parker
By Carter Bagley
I first heard buzz about this film way back in January when it made it’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and everything I heard was glowing and nothing less than stellar. All of the hype got me very excited to see the film especially since Nate Parker has been a rising star for years now and he finally took his career into his own hands by writing, directing and starring in it. Then a couple months ago charges of rape against Parker were brought up from 17 years ago even though they seemed to be long in the past as the court ruled it consensual and he was acquitted of all charges. This didn’t seem to matter though as the press has being weighing down Parker and this film ever since they were brought back up. Whether it happened or not is not my position to say but I will say I still remained excited to see this film because I tend to believe you should separate the artist from the art and let it stand on it’s own. The real tragedy here is that “The Birth Of A Nation” not only stands on it’s own but excels as a film all around and I don’t think people are seeing it for what it truly is. The true story turned into a film follows literate slave Nat Turner (Parker) who serves as a preacher to other slaves but after suffering and witnessing brutal acts of racism and violence against his people he decides to stand up as a leader and lead an uprising against the slave-owners including his (Armie Hammer) in hope to free all his fellow slaves. It’s a fantastic and tragic story and it’s told in such a detailed and caring way that you feel every hardship yourself as the film rolls out before your eyes. Nate Parker is absolutely outstanding as Turner and proves he’s beyond capable of being a strong, versatile and sensitive leading man. It contains impacting and brutal images of what is was really like in that turbulent period in American history. Parker’s direction is also surprisingly developed here even though it’s his directorial debut and it feels like a veteran filmmaker’s work. You feel every ounce of dread and pain as the film progresses and the life of a slave is showed in graphic detail. This is why the eventual violent uprising by devout Christian, Nat Turner, is all that more painful to watch as you understand the inevitable ending. Armie Hammer delivers a great supportive performance as Nat’s master who takes Nat around to different plantations to preach to the slaves for money. The conclusion is emotional and intense and will make you horrified by the history of our country. These good people driven to violence by their masters in hopes of freedom is a story that can affect us and something that each and everyone of us can relate to because that feeling doesn’t just apply to a specific group of people but to any human with a good sense of morality. I think one day this film will overcome the shadow of all the controversy surrounding it and be seen for what it is. It’s not a perfect film but it’s rawness and importance makes it a film I would recommend for anyone to go out and see especially because it’s expecting small box office returns. “The Birth of A Nation” is a genuine, emotional and expertly made film that I think has the potential to be remembered a long time from now.