BIRTH OF A NATION
Nate Parker stars, directs and even wrote the screenplay for the new film about the slave rebellion in Virginia led by Nat Turner called “Birth of a Nation”
Years before the civil war erupted, a young boy named Nat Turner was growing up on the Turner plantation (slaves took the last name of their owner as they were property). Nat was raised by his mother after his father ran off to avoid being lynched after killing a slave hunter when he was caught stealing food. Nat would also take books from the main house and taught himself how to read. Elizabeth Turner (Penelope Ann Miller) found out about Nat and instructed his mother to send him to the main house and he would be taught properly. Mrs. Turner gave Nat a bible to read and study.
Nat grew into a young man and began to preach to the other slaves on the plantation. Following his father’s death, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer)took over the farm. Mrs. Elizabeth left to live with her daughter Catherine and her new husband on a neighboring property. As a gift Samuel, after being prodded by Nat, bought a slave girl Cherry (Aja Naomi King) to serves as a house girl for Catherine (Katie Garfield). Nat was infatuated with Cherry and would take every opportunity to go to see Cherry. Nat would eventually marry Cherry as they jumped the broom. Cherry still remained at the other farm with Catherine.
Word got out about the Turner farm and how there was never any issue with the slaves there. Rev. Zalthall (Mark Boone Jr.) suggested to Samuel that he take his slave preacher to other farms to help get their slaves in line. This would generate the much needed money for Samuel to keep the farm. Drought was keeping crop numbers down and putting the crunch on the farmers. Nat agreed and then got his first look at what slave life was like at other farms under abusive owners. One such farm had a slaver force feeding his slave who had refused to eat by chiseling out his teeth and putting a funnel down his throat. I could barely watch parts of this film because there were brutally gruesome. There were whippings, beatings, rape and murders, this all before Nat decides to rebel.