“The Birth of a Nation” Review

14 December, 2016

Director: Nate Parker
Screenwriter: Nate Parker
Director of Photography: Elliot Davis
Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer

Synopsis: An educated black preacher who’s forced to pick cotton and deliver sermons to local slaves fuels a violent rebellion after witnessing the shocking mistreatment of his fellow man across the state of Virginia.

Birth of a Nation Review:

By no means the first film to conveniently glide its way into the “12 Years a Slave” slipstream, “The Birth of a Nation” is a pedestrian movie, exploiting present day political rhetoric in an attempt to rewire viewers into sympathising with its somewhat warped account of mass murder. Presented through the lens of current social discourse, the film sees a tale of revenge filtered through yet another fanciful depiction of racial oppression as Nate Parker turns his passion for the story of Nat Turner into a two hour epitaph where copycat dramatics and political virtue-signalling aid him in reclaiming a title once held by a century-old propaganda epic.

Ironically, Parker’s film is similarly biased in its depiction of tyranny and violence as the story purposefully empathises with Turner in every stage of his life, presenting him as a humble and righteous man in a bid to make his later actions feel more justified. While it’s practically impossible to make a film about slavery without criticising and/or commending an entire group of people, a storyteller can choose to be matter-of-fact and observational in their approach, something that Parker mostly rejects as he slots characters into neatly assigned categories while taking over as ringmaster and focus of the entire production.

As writer, director, producer, and principle star of the movie, the already disliked Parker is simply asking to be ridiculed as he foregrounds his own self-indulgence in plain sight of his sceptics. Although he does an admirable job of carrying the entire movie on his back, his peculiar vision is testing as he mixes beautiful yet groundless imagery with hard-hitting drama, neither of which share the screen comfortably as consistency and level-headedness fall by the wayside.



Review Date
The Birth of a Nation