History is simply a collection of stories told from an individual’s perspective. Whoever has the pen is able to write their own story… or someone else’s. Actor and director Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails) has grabbed the pen – and camera – to tell one of America’s most unsettling and tragic tales in his upcoming film, The Birth of a Nation.
The Birth of a Nation recalls the true story of one of the most infamous slave revolts in American history. Parker stars as Nat Turner, a slave who in 1831 inspired and led a deadly rebellion in the antebellum South. The true story is often a footnote in history books and rarely explored cinematically, due to its complicated nature that exposes America’s ugly recent history and the true potential cruelty of humanity.
The film’s full-length trailer (above) effectively sets up the dire circumstances of slavery and the effects that it had both physically and mentally, which ultimately inspired the revolt. Within the trailer’s two minute runtime it’s clear that this movie will take the audience on a gut-wrenching and powerful journey that has rarely been seen on the big screen.
The official synopsis for The Birth of a Nation is as follows:
Set against the antebellum South, THE BIRTH OF A NATION follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities – against himself and his fellow slaves – Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.
The title of the movie is a powerful reappropriation of one of history’s most influential and despicable films, The Birth of a Nation. The 1915 film was directed by D.W. Griffith and set new standards with innovative film techniques such as cross-cutting, but also contained racist ideology and bigotry that reenergized the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. Clearly, Parker’s intention seems to be to not only reclaim the film’s title, but to tell American history from a new perspective.
In addition to starring, Parker wrote and directed his passion project that has already resulted in the Grand Jury Prize at the this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The historical drama made such an impression that a bidding war ensued between studios, resulting in a $17.5 million dollar purchase by Fox Searchlight who will distribute the film this fall. The movie also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Aunjanue Ellis (Quantico), Aja Naomi King (How to Get Away With Murder), Penelope Miller (American Crime), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), and Gabrielle Union (Top Five).
Though not everyone may be excited to see The Birth of a Nation, it is undoubtedly going to be a movie to look out for this award season.
The Birth of a Nation opens in theaters on October 7th, 2016.