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The Birth of a Nation

MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, and some brief nudity.
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Biography Drama
Length:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
January 25, 2016 (festival)
October 7, 2016 (wide—2,105 theaters)
DVD: January 10, 2017
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

In what ways does the film story diverge from the true story—and why was that done? What is real and what is invented?

Who is director and actor Nate Parker? (Wikipedia)


slaves

What Scripture did plantation owners use to wrongly defend their slavery practices?

Does the Bible condone slavery? Answer

FOUNDING FATHERS AND SLAVERY—Were all of America’s Founding Fathers racists, pro-slavery, and hypocrites? Answer

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?

sin and the fall of man

Was Nat Turner’s use of extreme violence righteous justice? Was it merely self-defense or was it enraged revenge? Note that the real Nat Turner rebellion slaughtered women and children, and involved murdering people while they slept and acts of extreme brutality.

What does the Bible say about taking revenge?

Is the real Nat Turner a hero?

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

Rape

rape victims’ stories

shame and rape

Featuring: Nate Parker … Nat Turner
Armie HammerSamuel Turner
Penelope Ann Miller … Elizabeth Turner
Jackie Earle HaleyRaymond Cobb
Mark Boone Junior (Mark Boone Jr.) … Reverend Zalthall
Colman Domingo … Hark
Aunjanue Ellis … Nancy
Dwight Henry … Isaac Turner
Aja Naomi King … Cherry
Esther Scott … Bridget
more »
Director: Nate Parker
Producer: Argent Pictures
Bron Studios
more »
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “based on the story of Nat Turner, an enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831

Nat Turner, as a child in the antebellum South, is taught to read so he can study the Bible, and be a preacher to fellow slaves. When Turner's master takes him across the country on a preaching tour to profit from his preaching, Turner begins to see the scope of slavery, and decides to become a different leader and orchestrates a slave uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.”

Wikipedia: “Rebel slaves killed anywhere from 55 to 65 people, the highest number of fatalities caused by any slave uprising in the Southern United States. The rebellion was put down within a few days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterwards. There was widespread fear in the aftermath of the rebellion, and white militias organized in retaliation against the slaves. The state executed 56 slaves accused of being part of the rebellion. In the frenzy, many non-participant slaves were punished. At least 100 African Americans, and possibly up to 200, were murdered by militias and mobs in the area. Across the South, state legislatures passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free black people, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free black people, and requiring white ministers to be present at all worship services.”

IMDB: “The film looks at the slave revolt Nat Turner led in Virginia in 1831, but a storytelling device—the brutal sexual assault by white men on Turner's wife—feeds a rage that sets the rebellion in motion. History shows that Turner never acknowledged having a wife. There are records that indicate Turner's owner, Samuel Turner, married him to a slave named Cherry, but that he likely didn't consider the marriage valid and Nat never mentioned the marriage in his writings. Turner's rebellion was, according to his own writings, based on spiritual visions. ‘In a seventh vision, Nat Turner saw a holy war and believed he was commanded to take up arms against his oppressors,’ according to historians.”

IMDB: “[Actress] Gabrielle Union is a rape survivor. Her character [Esther] is raped in the film. On September 2, 2016, Union wrote an open-ed for the Los Angeles Times addressing the film's director Nate Parker's rape accusation in 1999. In 2012, the woman who accused Parker committed suicide after years battling depression. Union stated that she only found out about Parker's rape case in August 2016, and ‘as important and ground-breaking as this film is,’ she cannot take these allegations lightly and although it's often difficult to read and understand body language, the fact that some individuals interpret the absence of a ‘no’ as a ‘yes’ is problematic at least, criminal at worst.”

WND magazine article by Rusty Wright: “Birth Of A Nation” Movie: Freedom Fighter or Domestic Terrorist?

Volunteer reviewer needed for this movie—Request this assignment

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics

…one of the year’s best films… [4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

…an amazing work of art… told in brutal, unrelenting yet masterful fashion…
—Brian Truitt, USA Today

…a furious act of subversive historical drama… More battle cry than biopic… [A-]
—Drew McWeen, HitFix

…not a great film, but a brutally effective one… there was a palpable sense of bloodthirstiness in the audience…
—Christopher Lawrence, Las Vegas Review-Journal

…just good enough…
—Scott Mendelson, Forbes

…overcomes its faults with its striking passion… uneven but undeniably powerful…
—Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

…The short-lived rebellion is filmed in gruesome detail. Plantation owners are killed in their homes. Slave hunters gun down the rebels. Flesh is torn apart by knives and swords and hatchets and bullets. Men, women and children are hanged. …[3]
—Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate

…slavery epic as brutal as “Braveheart” …If only it were less heavy-handed… [3/5]
—Lanre Bakare, The Guardian

…powerful, problematic… it’s not difficult to stoke an audience's desire for vengeful justice…
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

…A biographical drama steeped equally in grace and horror, it builds to a brutal finale that will stir deep emotion and inevitable unease. …
—Justin Chang, Variety

“The Birth of a Nation” isn’t worth defending… Nate Parker’s retelling of Nat Turner’s rebellion does not succeed as art or as propaganda. …
—Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker

…a revenge movie… The film sticks to the basics of a true story while crafting a righteous fable in which a sweetheart of a hero hallucinates himself as Christ and sees angels watching over him. It’s a “counter-myth”… the film too often bludgeons and preaches when it should startle, challenge and mesmerize… [2]
—Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com

…builds to a finale that feels more like a revenge thriller with arguable scriptural justification…
—Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk

“The Birth of a Nation” is as fraught as director and star Nate Parker… ultimately, a story told with little depth or artistry or skill. … [1½/4]
—Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail [Canada]

…It's steeped in horrific displays of violence. And it wallows in human suffering and uses theology to, essentially, justify wholesale butchery. … [1/5]
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

…a pagan, heretical, fictionalized historical drama… Full of false revisionist history… an abhorrent, politically correct, pagan diatribe that tries to turn Nat into some kind of Christ figure, but that plays like a despicable defense of Islamic-style terrorism. …
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

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