The nation we live in today was built on the backs on our ancestors. The 2016 movie, Birth of a Nation, tells the story of Nat Turner. The rebellion started by Nat Turner was one of the main causes to the civil war and abolition of slavery that came years later. The movie title, Birth of a Nation, comes from a racist film about the foundation of America and was cleverly used to show the harsh truth of the era of slavery.
Nat Turner was played by actor Nate Parker. Nate Parker accurately depicted the spirit of Nat Turner throughout the film. Other important characters in the film include; Samuel Turner played by Armie Hammer, Cherry played by Aja King, Elizabeth Turner played by Penelope Miller and Nancy Turner played by Aunjanue Ellis. The purpose of this documentary is to educate the audience on the impact that Nat Turner had on slavery and how it led to the Civil War and eventually, the abolition of slavery.
Nat Turner, son of Nancy Turner, was born into slavery.
The film begins with Nat watching his father kill a slave catcher and watching this father leave his family. As a result, Nat was appointed the “man of their household”. During his childhood, Nat was taught to read by his owner’s wife, Elizabeth Turner. Nat was allowed to read at church and eventually becomes a highly respected preacher for other slaves. However, after a death in the family of the owners, Nat was transitioned from a house slave to a field slave where he learned to pick cotton.
From that point on, the movie begins to illustrate the horrors of slavery. One main horror shown in the movie was the rape and abuse of enslaved women by the white masters. Nat becomes upset when his wife Cherry is a victim of this abuse. However, it becomes an obvious problem when another woman is treated the same shortly after. The treatment of women on the plantations was only one of the major reasons as to the rebellion that later takes place in the movie. During the rebellion, approximately 5 dozen slave holding families were murdered. When the rebellion ends, all of those who participated were hung from trees to be seen. All except, Nat Turner. Nat Turner had run away as his father did.
However, when he received the news that the white owners would continue to kill slaves until he was found, he gave himself up. Nat Turner was hung in front of a crowd of people cheering and chanting. He had brought awareness that what was happening was wrong and that the slaves should fight for their freedom. Overall, the movie was very educational and showed the importance of Nat Turner during slavery that many classrooms fail to cover. I specifically enjoyed how the movie depicted Nat’s gradual attitude change as to how he viewed slavery. At the beginning of the movie, Nat seemed content although he was not free. However, as the movie advances, Nat becomes angry with how his people are treated thus leading to the rebellion. Also, I enjoyed the end of the movie. While Nat was begin hung, a young slave watched on in the crowed with teary eyes. From that point, the movie skipped to less than 35 years later where the same young man was fighting in the Civil War for the freedom of his people. It shows the influence that Nat had on the spirit of the African Americans that were enslaved. However, I did not like that the movie seemed to skip around a lot and was hard to follow.
The audience was given short views to certain events while in depth on others. All events were necessary in order to fully grasp to importance of these events. I would recommend other students to go see this movie as well. This movie provides insight into history as well as made me grateful for what our ancestors did for us. Nat Turner was a pioneer. He helped lead the slaves in a rebellion that would later become the Civil Rights movement.