If you want to see the new film called THE BIRTH OF A NATION, you better get to a theater soon, because this film festival hit has become a box office flop. Set in 1831, THE BIRTH OF A NATION is based on the true story of a group of slaves in Georgia who rose up against the people who owned and abused them. Director and actor Nate Parker plays the leader of that rebellion, Nat Turner, a once obedient slave who’s driven to violence after his wife is raped and beaten by three white men. THE BIRTH OF A NATION is a stirring history lesson. It’s not as great as film festival audiences proclaimed, but it’s well worth seeing.
White woman to Nat’s mother: You have him come by the house tomorrow after lunch. I’m gonna teach him and don’t expect him back anytime soon.
As a young boy, Nat Turner learns to read and write mostly by studying the Bible.
As a young man, when he’s not picking cotton, he’s preaching to his fellow slaves. Soon he becomes a tool of his masters, rented out to other plantation owners to keep their slaves in line.
Owner: Listen to him and you might make it to heaven.
Nat: Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect not only to those who are good and considerate but also to those who are harsh.
But the owners underestimate the young preacher. After he’s forced to watch the brutality of some of the plantation owners and later discovers his own wife has been beaten and raped, he becomes defiant.
Owner: We been good to you. My whole family, and you go on and do something like this to me. A nigger baptizing a white man on my property. Do you know how that makes us look?….
Nat: Beware of false prophets who come dressed in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves.
After Nat himself is brutally beaten, he decides to fight back and manages to gather a small group of men to help him.
Nat’s ill mother: If the Lord’s called you to fight, you fight for us all.
Their rebellion is doomed, but it shows slave owners that there can be fatal consequences to their shameless treatment of black people.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org