“The Birth of A Nation” tells the true story of Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher who after witnessing the atrocities his people were experiencing, he orchestrated an uprising, in the South, in the hopes of getting freedom for his people.
This is a very tough watch but an important one. Nat Turner was a name that the leaders of the time hoped future generations would never hear of. It is important for us to know that name, the man behind the name and the barbarities he represents.
I felt physically sick watching this film. The thought that people could treat a fellow human being the way the slaves were treated is unfathomable. I also felt physically sick because while it is unfathomable, the frightening thing is that it is still happening today!
This film doesn’t hold back. There are some very graphic and upsetting scenes, but these are in no way gratuitous. The performances that writer, director and star Nate Parker, elicits from his cast are outstanding. If Aja Naomi King is not Oscar nominated for her portrayal of Cherry, the Academy is not learning from it’s own recent past.
It is not a spoiler to say that there is no happy ending here. This film leaves you feeling so angry. But maybe that is what we should be feeling – anger. Anger and determination. In this world that has us questioning what is happening to humanity, we must be angry that this could and did happen; and be determined to stop this happening all over again.
“The Birth of A Nation” is not entertainment. If you go to the cinema for escapism, this isn’t the film for it. However, cinema is not just to entertain, it is also to inform. These stories need to be told. We cannot forget our sometimes horrific history or we continue to have the same atrocities.