“Birth of a Nation” From an Opposite point of view.
By Skip Sheffield
Nate Parker didn’t just remake the notorious film “The Birth of a Nation.” The writer, director and star totally re-envisioned it, and did a 180-degree turn from the 1915 silent film, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and vilified African-American slaves.
“Birth of a Nation” is told from the point of view of Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a black slave in Virginia in 1831. Nat was a supremely intelligent young man who knew how to read in a time when black people were denied an education. Nat had a teacher in Elizabeth Turner (Penelope Ann Miller), wife of plantation owner Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer) who was relatively enlightened compared to most Southern slave owners and The Bible as a textbook.
Make no mistake; “Birth of a Nation” is hard to endure. It is quite graphic in its depiction of the hate, violence and hypocrisy of “genteel” Southerners. Nat is allowed to preach to fellow slaves with the hope he can keep them calmed down.
Instead as witness to repeated atrocities, Nat became a radical abolitionist, who recruited a small band of slaves to rise up against their masters, and slaughter them.
This is not a made-up story. Nat Turner really existed, and it was his sad story that fired abolitionists nationwide to abolish the institution of slavery. While this movie is bloody and violent, it is only a foreshadowing of the War Between the States, aka the Civil War. Violence begets violence. This movie is as biased as the original “Birth of a Nation,” only from the opposite point of view. It is an impressive debut by first-time director, writer, star and producer Nate Parker.