The Birth of a Nation Poster

The Birth of a Nation (2016)

Biography | History 
Rayting:   6.4/10 20175 votes
Country: USA | Canada
Language: English

Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising.

Movie Trailer

User Reviews

ofumalow 4 October 2016

I strongly disapprove of the fact that this movie has gotten a lot of IMDb thumbs-down from people who most likely haven't seen it, but just disapprove of a movie about slavery, as well as one whose director has a problematic past.

However, that's not what I'm writing about here. I DID see the film (at a film festival), and my disappointment is based on the movie itself, not politics or anything else external. "The Birth of a Nation" is about a very important chapter in US history, yet it sanitizes that history to a ridiculous degree. I think most non-blatant-racists can agree that an uprising amongst slaves is a thing that inherently generates empathy. Yet this movie apparently doesn't agree--it needs to sanitize the mental health of Nat Turner (who was on record as saying God directly told him what to do from an early age) as well as pretend women & children weren't killed in the Turner uprising. I'm not saying these things were justifiable. What I'm saying is that they're part of a complex historical record, and shouldn't have been left out of a movie that purports to tell the "truth." That would be fine if "Birth" were one of many Nat Turner movies out there, but it's the only one most people are likely to see.

It's also a pandering, middle-of-the-road "inspirational" movie, so much less complex a take on slavery than the recent "12 Years a Slave." While that movie was a work of art, this is more like a TV movie in style and content. I just wasn't impressed by it. I wish somebody would make great Nat Turner movie. This isn't it. And sorry, a bad populist telling of the tale isn't better than no telling.

trublu215 17 July 2016

Nate Parker's stirring portrayal of Nat Turner's rebellion is a film that tries extremely hard to be something more than what it is. This is not the Oscar contender you read it to be, this is not some revelation in the vein of Roots, this is just another slavery film. Nate Parker's film sheds no new light on the brutality of slavery and does his absolute best to make sure you despise the white villains in this as anyone should as they are portrayed with much relish from the actors especially Jackie Earle Haley's menacing slave owner that serves as the main villain of the film. The problems that The Birth of a Nation has are ones that exist in it's director's overbearing ego and overwhelming goal to bring something powerful to the table. Parker succeeds haphazardly unfortunately. The Birth of a Nation tells the story of Nat Turner, a preacher turned rebellion leader as he fights racism in the south with a violent and brutal fist. The film is powerful and Jackie Earle Haley and Gabrielle Union are absolute gems in this film, with Union giving the best performance of her career and Nate Parker giving...well, a performance. The problems here lie with the film itself. The story plays like a more realistic version of Django Unchained, even lifting some inspiration from that film a little too heavily for the scenes in which the slaves are beaten and abused. However, the film also delves into the religious aspects of Turner so heavy handedly that it borders along the fine line of a parody more often than not. The other film that Parker must have had playing on his tablet while directing some scenes is Braveheart because, the last battle in particular, is riddled with countless homages to that film that border plagiarism. Between the way Parker conveys his violence and the way he immortalizes Nat Turner by making him more of a saint than he ought to be, the film gradually feels less and less genuine as the running time winds down. That was my biggest gripe with the film honestly. Nate Parker failed to convey anything human about Nat Turner outside of him witnessing the brutalization that went on around him. There is something divine in the way Parker conveys Turner and it is just too much for a film that is steeped in this much history and realism. It fails to accurately portray to rebellion as it happened. There are very few mentions of what the rebellion actually did in reality as opposed to what it did in the film. While I am not saying that Turner's Rebellion was without cause, the film dilutes the harsh realities of what Turner's Rebellion did. In a sense, I felt it was a bit disrespectful to the victims of his Rebellion both black and white. With that being said, this is a film and not a documentary, so there is some room for some creative liberties, within reason. However, this does stand as Nate Parker's first directorial effort and, for a first film, it is a damn fine effort that should lead to more work as a director. Despite this fact, it still is nowhere near enough to sustain this as a film worthy of accolades and praise. Quite frankly, there is a lot wrong with the film. The pacing is either mind-numbingly slow or so quickly cut and erratic that you can barely grasp what is going on. Also, the extreme close shots are so constant and abundant that it is just another contributing factor to it feeling very incoherent. The story is bland and has been done before and done better despite this being Nat Turner's first on-screen portrayal, the story has inspired many films that have come out in rec

FilmPhanatic88 7 October 2016

The Birth of Nation tells the story of Nat Turner as he treks through his life of brutality and slavery at the hands of brutal plantation owners in 19th century Southern America only to lead a slave rebellion to exact revenge on his oppressors. First off, this film is shrouded in controversy and hype while masking itself with the notion that this is an important film. In the hands of a more capable director, The Birth of a Nation could have been a truly mesmerizing film but Nate Parker's overly ambitious and slightly egotistical vision is hard to swallow for all the wrong reasons. The film starts with young Nat Turner playing with the son of his slave master, Samuel. Nat is a special boy as he learns to read and write at a young age with the help of his slave owner Elizabeth Turner (Penelope Ann Miller). From that point on, we see Nat Turner (Nate Parker) and Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer) as adults. The two are friends but Nat must still walk on egg shells due to his status as a slave. The story progresses very slowly, showing Samuel in a financial bind and Nat living a comfortable life (with all things considering) with his wife Cherry. Samuel eventually exploits Nat as a preacher to the slaves and even makes money off of him as a preacher of gospel in order to keep the slaves docile and calm. As he is carted off to multiple plantations for sermons, he sees the horrors of slavery first-hand and decides, after a brutal (fictious) rape on Cherry, to rebel and cause an uprising. The film is a sad one. It is sad because of slavery, because of the brutality, yes...but the saddest part of The Birth of a Nation is the idea of what could have been. The film is a vicious display of violence and brutality with a one-sided and very historically inaccurate story. While many people are not privy to Nat Turner's rebellion, it still does not excuse the poorly constructed storyline based around the idea of a rape and religious visions in order to fuel the Nat Turner character's motives as if Parker was not confident enough in telling the true life story and the real reasons behind why Turner rebelled. Much like this year's Free State of Jones, The Birth of a Nation screenplay is haphazard and very amateur in its execution. The women characters are mere pawns that have little to no dialog and the dialog they are given is so unsubstantial that it lessens the impacts of their actions...especially when the Cherry character's rape is such an integral part to Parker's telling of the story. The acting is powerful at times and Parker gives a good performance but it is a performance that you can't take seriously at moments. He is an actor that can have you tear up in one scene and unintentionally laugh at another whether it is because of a line delivery or some of his overly dramatic scowls. Gabrielle Union, who plays Esther, the muted rape victim is also amazing in her role. Armie Hammer also shows glimpses of a great performance especially because his character had a much more interesting sub-plot to delve into and the film really never gave it a second thought outside of a single scene scored to overtly dramatic music. The filmmaking is the downfall here. The Birth of a Nation is painfully slow in its first hour and very chaotic in its second. It reeks of an inexperienced filmmaker and left me genuinely surprised especially because of the hype that we've heard about this film. Honestly, I've seen History Channel specials with better productions. The blue tint is overbearing, the actual camera work is too close and honed

ma-cortes 30 March 2017

A good film , though it has extremely violent events , sadism , physical abuse , lynchings and other racist excesses . Nat Turner's Rebellion , also known as the Southampton Insurrection , is set against the antebellum South , it follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher , he was highly intelligent and learned how to read and write at a young age and he grew up deeply religious and was often seen fasting , praying or immersed in reading the stories of the Bible . Then , his financially strained owner , Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer) , accepts an offer to use Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves . Later on , there takes place the brutal sexual assault by white men on Turner's wife (Aja Naomi King) , it feeds a rage that sets the rebellion in motion . Soon after, , Nat leads a slave rebellion that took place in Southampton County , Virginia, during August 1831 . As Nat orchestrates an Southern uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom .

The film packs crude scenes full of brutality and cruelty in which the African-American slaves suffer humiliations , flagellation , beating , degradation , and mistreats by their owners . As Nat Turner witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves . As Nat Turner well played by Nat Parker carries out an upheaval against the ruthless proprietaries in the antebellum South , this rebellion occurred in Southampton Co. VA. August 21- 23, 1831 . Nat Parker gives an acceptable acting as the literate slave and preacher who orchestrates a bloody riot . Support is frankly fine , such as : Penélope Anne Miller , Aja Naomi King , Gabrielle Union , Mark Boone Junior , Colman Domingo , Aunjanue Ellis , Dwight Henry , and special mention for Jackie Earle Haley as the villain slave hunter Raymond Cobb , among others . It displays a thrilling as well as sensitive musical score by Henry Jackman , adding evocative African songs . Colorful cinematography by Elliot Davis , being shot on a former plantation between Springfield and Clyo, Georgia, about thirty miles north of Savannah . The picture was well shot by Nat Parker and it was filmed in a month , approx . Nat has filmed with all of the power and realism at its command but some scenes in exploitation style , including strong tortures , lashing , rape , grisly killings and many other things .

This ¨The birth of a nation¨ is correctly based on true events , these are the followings : Turner rebellion was, according to his own writings, based on spiritual visions . Turner had various visions , as "the Saviour was about to lay down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and the great day of judgment was at hand" . Nat attempts to challenge racism and white supremacy in America, to inspire a riotous disposition toward any and all injustice in this country and abroad and to promote the kind of honest confrontation that will galvanize our society toward healing and sustained systemic change . Led by Nat Turner, he started with several trusted fellow slaves, and ultimately gathered more than 70 enslaved and free blacks, some of whom were mounted on horseback . The rebels traveled from house to house, freeing slaves and killing all the white people they encountered. Because the rebels did not want to alert anyone, they discarded their muskets and used knives, hatchets, axes, and blunt instruments instead of firearms. The rebel slaves killed from 55 to 65 people, the highest number of fatalities caused by any slave uprising in the Southern United States. A white militia wi

DontHolocostMe 9 October 2016

I typically love historical films. Having a bachelors degree in history and an enormous home library consisting of many historical books from all periods in American and World history, I have a fond knack for this particular subject.

Unfortunately 2016's "Birth of A Nation" mostly disappoints. This film feels more like a made for TV movie than a big budget film. The dialogue felt contrived and the movie was plagued with too many clichés. The film also ignores the darker side of the slave rebellion, in which women and children became innocent victims, along with the plantation owners.

Birth of a Nation basically paints Nat Turner has an unquestionable hero, yet the real Nat Turner - if you've ever read any history - probably wouldn't be considered as a hero by the vast majority of modern people, considering some of his questionable actions during the rebellion that left women and children slaughtered.

There wasn't really much of an impact on me by the end of the film, and I think the film mostly fails to give the viewer a clear or unique message. In the end, the film mostly feels like a waste of resources. Historical films should be better than this!

ajscarpino 28 February 2016

I had the opportunity to watch this film at Sundance this year and after the screening Nate Parker gave a speech that I will never forget.

I didn't learn about the Nat Turner Rebellion until I was in college and hearing that there was going to be a film was very exciting. I was 22 and learning about Nat Turner. 22 years on this earth without knowing about a man's ability to fight back for his life and the lives of everyone he knew.

This movie is about standing up against what's wrong and through his incredible performance, Nate Parker tells that story with passion and determination.

The film brought the realities of Nat Turner's life-time to life. You aren't watching a movie about Nat Turner, but rather, you are watching Nat Turner himself live the excruciating pain and tragedy of the south during the early 1800s. This movie represents our countries beginnings and the title is a reference to the infamous film made in 1915. 100 years later and we have made progress, but our country still has a long way to go.

What I enjoyed most about this movie was the message that Nate Parker wants you to walk away with. During his speech after the screening he said, "This film tells the fatalist to sit down, and the optimist to stand up." For those of you that aren't aware, Fatalism is "the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do."

So stop being the fatalist. Stand up and go make a change in this world.

dalente 12 February 2016

Nate parker writes, produces, acts, and directs this landmark in American history. The story of Nat Turner is one that is relatively uncharted territory in the realm of cinema, with that being said, Nate Parker does a great job of of telling the story, albeit a little shortsighted as to the backlash that transpired afterwards.

Also, I don't know what this other critic user is talking about in regards to calling this movie, "racist crap" and giving it a 1 out of 10. The movie tells the story of a rebellious slave who does whatever he needs to, to achieve freedom from the oppressive south. With that being said, his story simply tells the truth of our nations racial relations at this time. In this particular context, Blacks and whites surely were not singing kumbaya, our relationship was highly one-sided, volatile, and largely disturbing. So, to anyone who is not prepared to see a small glimpse of historical truth in regards to our nations past, do not see this movie. You'll just end up like this other user, offended because this movie doesn't depict white people as saviors, heroes, etc, like most movies...it depicts a more sinister side that too often goes untold, unseen, and therefore, unnoticed.

Ryan_Aldworth 25 February 2017

Birth of a Nation is Nate Parker's directorial debut and I was initially sceptical about watching this film after the harsh criticism it received and the controversy around the portrayal of the events. The best way to describe this one for anybody that is not aware of the plot is "Django Unchained" meets "12 Years a Slave" although toned down slightly in budget and quality of direction. I loved this film a lot and the vision and passion that Nate Parker conveys with the script is unparalleled. Something that I was very concerned about with this film is whether or not it would fall into the trap of "The Free State of Jones" because many audiences complained that it was too long and boring however this film is consistently interesting and thought provoking from start to finish. Unfortunately, the editing throughout felt extremely rushed. It was almost as if they were scared to leave the camera on a character too long in case the audience lost interest and the editing is overall very sloppy which is one of the major flaws with the picture. I would have loved to see them take their time with the shots and extend the film to the 160 – 170-minute mark to allow for further character development but I understand why they didn't because of the hatred that previous similar films received. For the first hour of the film, it wasn't very emotionally captivating and I struggled to relate to the characters a lot. The film also loses its footing and trips over common clichés within the biographical war drama/ period piece films which takes away some of the innovation presented by the mostly superb cinematography. The characters should have been given more freedom to traverse the world as they often felt detached from the setting and environment of the film due to a lack of interaction. The film also features some very thought provoking metaphorical imagery although it often feels very forced and doesn't blend well with the structure of the narrative. An additional flaw with the film was that I felt that Nate Parker was trying way too hard in this role and was seriously desperate for acting recognition. That's perfectly understandable as this is his directorial debut although he has often quite obviously constructed scenes that allow him to stand out and seem the superior actor in relation to the rest of the cast. Moving away from criticisms on the film, what I thought it did really well was to eliminate the stigma surrounding historical settings in the film industry today where average movie goers often associate historical events as boring and tedious and I honestly can't imagine anybody being genuinely bored at this film. It just moves so fast and the events are truly brutal and relentless. Some of the scenes in this film are excruciatingly hard to watch and the film isn't scared to push the boundaries of the "15" certification. This really worked to its advantage to show the horrifying events although some viewers will be turned off by the onslaught of violence and torture. The personal peak of the film for me was the score. So expertly chosen to reflect the actions on screen and breathe life into scenes that are otherwise quite bland. The music really worked for me and there wasn't too much to the point where it felt like a music video much like other titles this year (Suicide Squad). The gore and injury detail is so well realised, absolutely horrific and shocking leaving some scenes cemented into audiences minds for days after watching the film. There was a singular scene

artmania90 16 January 2017

The problem with THE BIRTH OF A NATION isn't the controversy surrounding the title, which it reclaims from the acclaimed 1915 silent film by DW Griffith. It also has nothing to do with the stigma surrounding the film's director Nate Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin, accused of raping a woman back in 1999. The simple fact of the matter, amidst a film festival circuit buzzing about Oscars for this little film, is that it is not that good.

This is described as being a passion project for first-time director Nate Parker (who also stars in the lead role of a slave named Nat Turner), who financed much of the film with his own money and worked tirelessly to bring the forgotten story of a rebellion to the big screen. Based on true accounts, this is another film in the lives of the Antebellum south where slaves are brutalized on screen and audiences are meant to both marvel at the art while feel shame for living in a country with such dark historical chapters. There seems to be a resurgence of slave-based films, going back to Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and followed by the masterful "12 Years a Slave" and "Lincoln." In a time when race relations are at the centerfold of a political election cycle and splatter the front pages of the news every day, the subject matter has never been more relevant or controversial.

There are certain moments in the film where an emotion rings true, or the camera catches a glance of something remarkable. Overall, I felt like I was rewatching a copy of better films. For a first-time directorial effort, this is in no way a failure of intent. Watching the film, I think Mr Parker simply paid one too many homages to similar films that have come before.

Nat Turner is a slave who is raised to read and write by the wife of his master. Growing up, there is little evidence that Turner or his family experienced an onslaught of torture, and in fact his relationship with his mother and grandmother is in many ways the center of the film. When grown, Turner begins preaching the gospel, and word spreads of the "colored preacher" who may have a way to reach slaves in various plantations and bring them to the salvation of the Lord through sermons and prayer. He becomes a celebrity of sorts, brought house to house by his master, Samuel (Armie Hammer). Along the way, he marries, has a child, and begins to ponder the true meaning of the Bible and whether or not it flies in opposition to slavery itself.

The story goes that Turner formed a militia of slaves from nearby plantations, murdered their owners, and worked their way to the center of town in attempts to overpower the whites and bring about a coup where slaves all over the South would rise up in opposition. Set in 1831, this occurred no less than 30 years before the Civil War, and the idea that tensions were bubbling up for so long only helps one to realize the fragile state of the country during the time of slavery.

The story of Nat Turner itself is a beautiful testament to God and the idea of self-worth. In the hands of a more skilled filmmaking team, there is no doubt that this story could have been a movie worth remembering come Oscar season. There is simply no subtlety in the film, which recreates similar movies nearly shot-for-shot, including a final execution scene that is all but plagiarized from the finale of "Braveheart." We have seen movies that deal with outsiders coming together to overcome a great challenge before, and when watching "Nation,&q

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