Released October 7th
Let’s say you got on the California Screamin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s California Adventure and were stuck on the speeding ride for eight hours – you ride it over and over and over. How would that feel? Go see Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation and you may find out.
The camera pans a peaceful clearing in the woods opening to a wide river, a field of white cotton blending into the pre-dawn light of the sky, a humble wood shack…a graceful languid pace sets the stage for one of the most powerful films you’ll ever see. The rhythm of the film mirrors the pace of life during the time period in which it takes place, the early 1800’s up to 1831. In fact, the true story portrayed in this film played an extremely important part in American history and highlights the impact that education has on strength and power.
The new version of The Birth of a Nation provides a balance for the skewed version of history shown in DW Griffith’s 1915 film, which glorified white supremacy. Actor Nate Parker has seemingly worked a miracle here. His only previous credits as a director are two short films. This movie, in which he was the director and played the lead role, was shot on a budget of about $10 million in 27 days in Savannah Georgia, and is a masterpiece of filmmaking. He has certainly mastered one of a film director’s most important jobs, that of HR Manager – he has recruited and inspired a team of virtuosos.
Parker has inspired his cinematographer, Elliot Davis – and his actors and his crew, to dedicate their focus to this story as if they were living it. The faces – the camera stays on each one, black or white, just long enough to engrave it in our senses. Scenes of people treating others as if they are animals play as horrific yet not overdramatic. The sound track is beautifully constructed and truly complements the breathtaking visuals. The editing by Steven Rosenblum is superb.
Nate Parker is a fine actor. This is obviously a passion project for him. He started writing it seven years ago, and invested $100K of his own money in the production. Sundance Institute believed in the project and helped with grants. This is some of the best work I’ve seen from Armie Hammer. His character goes through a transformation and he plays it brilliantly so that it happens realistically. Aja Naomi King is captivating as “Cherry”. Every one of the actors is memorable – even those with very little screen time.
This movie is worth the emotional roller coaster ride.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. email@example.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com