The Birth of a Nation (2016)

Theatrical Release: October 7, 2016
The Birth of a Nation (2016)


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.

Dove Review

“The Birth of a Nation” is a period film based on the story of Nat Turner, a man who led a slave-driven rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. The film features strong acting, particularly from Nate Parker as Nat, Armie Hammer as Samuel Turner, and Aja Naomi King as Cherry, the woman Nat marries. In addition, the music is pitch-perfect and the cinematography is stirring. The movie does a good job in portraying what the various slaves of the day encountered, meaning whippings, racist remarks, and disdain. However, it does too good a job of making it look realistic. We see bloody backs with torn flesh, bloody lips, a slave’s teeth knocked out because he refused to eat, and then food being forced down his throat, a decapitation, hangings and…well, you get the idea. The movie also features harsh language and several profanities, not to mention female nudity from the waist up.

Nat is hired by various plantation owners to preach to their slaves, to remind them to be obedient to their masters, and to keep them peaceful. However, it is Nat’s master, Samuel, who gets paid for Nat’s labors as a minister. Despite the intriguing story of a slave-minister (Nat), and his eventual turn to violence in an attempt to end the violence to his people, this movie definitely is outside the circle of “family-friendly”. In fact, most of the second half of the film is downright depressing, although realistically portrayed. We unfortunately cannot award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to the movie.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: Women slaves are forced by white men to sleep with them although this is not graphically portrayed; a woman is shown following a rape and she has been beaten; a slave owner grabs the leg of a slave woman; a newly-married husband and wife look at each other and we see them both nude from the waist up; passionate kissing between a few couples; a girl is seen, clothed, in the bed of a slave owner.
Language: GD-6; G-dang-1; Good Lord-1; H-5; H (as a Biblical place)-1; the word "nig*er" is used multiple times in the movie; Slang for testicles-1
Violence: A ton of violence including slaves being punched, whipped, and one man's very bloody back, with flesh torn, is seen, as well as his back being stitched up by a woman; a dead man's very bloody head is seen with brains on ground; a decapitation; stabbings; slave's teeth are knocked out and a lot of blood is shown then food is shoved down his throat; slaves are tied up and one man has a metal guard over his mouth; several people, including a young boy, are seen hanging; several men are slashed with an axe; a slave woman is seen after she is beaten up, with bruises and black eyes; men are set on fire with torches, although the scene is not gratuitous; corpses are seen a few times; several men are shot and some are killed; a frightened slave woman attacks an innocent man but learns he meant her no harm.
Drugs: Cigar and pipe smoking in several scenes; gin, brandy and other alcohol is consumed in several scenes.
Nudity: Several scenes of shirtless men and boys; a woman's breasts are seen as she is nude from the waist up; cleavage in a few scenes; a boy is seen in a loin cloth.
Other: Tension between characters; racism; slaves are viewed as less than human; a man struggles with the decision to fight back; a man vomits; belching; death and grief.


Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Writer: Nate Parker
Director: Nate Parker
Genre: Biography
Runtime: 120 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L Carpenter